Polycystic Ovary Syndrome is an endocrine disorder affecting one in ten women in the United States. Many Type 2 Diabetics have PCOS.
What is PCOS? In normal ovaries, a single egg matures and is released each month. In PCOS the follicles that develop and release eggs do not release due to hormonal imbalances causing cysts on the ovaries.
What causes PCOS? It is not known what causes PCOS. It is also not clear whether weight gain causes PCOS or PCOS causes weight gain. Many researchers correlate excess insulin levels in PCOS patients with excess androgen production.
Per the Mayo Clinic: “Doctors don’t know the cause of polycystic ovary syndrome, but research suggests a link to excess insulin, the hormone produced in the pancreas that allows cells to use sugar (glucose), your body’s primary energy supply. By several mechanisms, excess insulin is thought to boost androgen production by your ovaries. Studies also indicate that genetic factors may play a role in PCOS.”
Symptoms: It is important to note that not all women have all symptoms. Some symptoms improve with menopause and some get worse.
- Infrequent or absent menstrual cycles
- High blood pressure
- Skin tags
- Pre diabetes or Type 2 Diabetes
- Cystic ovaries
- Hirsutism (excessive body hair)
- Thinning of scalp hair
- Dark patches of skin on armpits, neck, inner thighs, vulva or under breasts.
Could you have PCOS? Take the quiz.
Treatment can prevent the risk factors of PCOS, including diabetes, cancer of the uterus and heart disease, and will address the symptoms of PCOS.
Per WomensHealth.gov, recent studies have found that
- More than 50 percent of women with PCOS will have diabetes or pre-diabetes (impaired glucose tolerance) before the age of 40.
- Women with PCOS have a four to seven times higher risk of heart attack than women of the same age without PCOS.
- Women with PCOS are at greater risk of having high blood pressure.
- Women with PCOS have high levels of LDL (bad) cholesterol and low levels of HDL (good) cholesterol.
Diagnosis of PCOS is made through blood tests and ultrasound.
PCOS does not go away. Treatment modalities for PCOS involve managing symptoms and is dependent upon where a woman is in her reproductive life and her personal choices. Many medications should not be taken if a woman is trying to get pregnant.
Pharmacological treatments may include:
- Metformin for managing glucose and insulin resistance
- Spirolactone for acne and hair growth
- Propecia for hair loss
- Low dose oral contraceptives to regulate menstrual cycles
- Clomid for infertility issues
Ovarian drilling may be an option to stimulate ovulation. This is a surgical procedure involving a small laproscopic abdominal incision. A surgeon uses electrical or laser energy to burn holes in enlarged follicles on the surface of the ovaries.
The Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome Association: “Awareness is central to our mission, because awareness of PCOS leads to faster diagnosis, better funding for research, more treatment options, and most importantly, prevention of more severe chronic diseases.”