Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (Stein-Leventhal syndrome) commonly known as PCOS, is the most common hormonal disorder observed among reproductive age females.
Polycystic ovarian syndrome (or polycystic ovary syndrome) is a disorder in which the ovaries of the woman are generally enlarged. Polycystic means ‘many cysts’; here the ovaries have many cysts or follicles, which fail to mature and produce eggs.
PCOS is characterised by the presence of cluster of small, pearl-sized fluid-filled cysts in the ovaries. These cysts contain immature eggs.
In this condition there is an imbalance in the female hormones and presence of slightly elevated levels of androgen (male hormone) which causes irregular or delayed menstrual cycles, excessive facial hair growth or unwanted growth of body hair, acne, infertility, etc.
Women with PCOS experience several signs and symptoms which vary from woman to woman; and as there is no single test which can confirm the diagnosis of PCOS, this disorder is termed as the ‘Silent Killer”.
Timely diagnosis and suitable treatment can prevent the risk towards the development of numerous complications.
The exact causative factor of PCOS is unknown though, the below mentioned factors may play a role.
2. Hormonal imbalance – Excessive production of the male sex hormone, androgen may affect the release of eggs during the ovulation stage.
3. Insulin Resistance – Insulin resistance leads to excess insulin in the body. Excess insulin leads to increase in androgen production, which may inhibit the ability of the ovaries to ovulate.
5. Low-grade inflammation.
Symptoms of PCOS generally commence soon after menarche (beginning of menstruation). Symptoms and intensity of symptoms vary from female to female. Some of the symptoms experienced are as follows
1. Irregular or absent menstrual cycles.
2. Excess or unnecessary body or facial hair growth
3. Multiple cysts in the ovaries.
4. Infertility (inability to conceive after one year of frequent unprotected intercourse).
5. Thinning of hair on the scalp.
6. Pelvic pain.
7. Mood changes, depression or anxiety.
8. Skin problems, including skin tags and skin darkening.
9. Sleep apnea (sleep disorder where there are abnormal pauses of breathing during sleep).
10. Reduced libido (sexual desire).
There is no particular diagnostic test to confirm the diagnosis of PCOS. All the signs and symptoms are considered and then accordingly all the other possible disorders are ruled out. Certain tests performed are
1. Physical examination.
2. Menstrual History.
3. Pelvic examination.
4. Androgen levels.
5. Fasting cholesterol and triglycerides.
6. Blood sugar.
7. Thyroid profile.
8. Pelvic Laparoscopy.
Early diagnosis and treatment of PCOS decreases the risk of developing complications. Some complications experienced by women suffering with PCOS are
3. Uterine Cancer.
4. Sleep apnea.
5. Hypertension (increased blood pressure).
6. Elevated cholesterol & lipids.
7. Heart attack.
8. Breast cancer.
9. Depression & anxiety.
10. Miscarriage (spontaneous loss of a pregnancy before the 20th week).
11. Gestational diabetes (type of diabetes which develops, or is diagnosed for the first time during pregnancy).
12. Premature delivery.
13. Pregnancy induced hypertension.
Treatment of Polycystic ovarian syndrome involves
1. Prescription of birth control pills, in females who do not want to get pregnant.
2. Infertility is treated by inducing ovulation.
3. Prescription of insulin sensitizing; androgen blocking and topical anti- hair growth medications.
4. Treatment for hair loss.
5. Acne treatment.
6. Weight loss treatment.
7. Adapting a healthy lifestyle.
8. Consuming a healthy and a well balanced diet.
9. Performing regular exercises.
PCOS can be prevented by, to a larger extent, by
1. Adapting a healthy lifestyle.
2. Consuming a healthy and a well balanced diet.
3. Maintaining healthy weight.
4. Performing regular exercises.
5. Avoiding smoking.