Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome or (PCOS) is a hormonal disorder causing enlarged ovaries with tiny cysts on the outer edges of the ovaries. The ovaries often fail to release eggs causing women to be anovulatory and thus infertile.
PCOS requires a medical diagnosis with lab tests and sonographic imaging.
The cause of PCOS is not well understood, but may involve a combination of genetic and environmental factors. Early diagnosis and treatment along with weight loss can help to decrease the risk of long term complications such as Type 2 diabetes and heart disease
Symptoms of PCOS usually starts during puberty, but can also develop during the later teen years. Because symptoms may be attributed to other causes, or go unnoticed, PCOS may go undiagnosed for some time. Symptoms of PCOS include:
- Weight gain: 1/2 of all women diagnosed with PCOS have weight gain and obesity
- Fatigue: Many patients with PCOS have increased fatigue and decreased energy. Often times women with PCOS have sleep apnea which can contribute to poor sleep and fatigue
- Hirsutism: Increased hair growth which may include the face, arms, back, chest, thumbs, toes and abdomen
- Thinning Hair On The Head: Women with PCOS often experience this symptom in middle age
- Infertility: This is due to anovulation and failure of the ovaries to release eggs.
- Acne: Hormonal changes related to androgen can lead to acne and to other skin changes such as the development of skin tags and darkened patches of skin
- Mood Changes: PCOS increases the likelihood of depression and mood lability
- Pelvic Pain: This may occur with menses but can occur anytime throughout the month.
- Missed Menses (Amenorrhea): This is very typical in patients with PCOS. This is due to anovulatory nature of menses in women with PCOS. Heavy bleeding (Menorrhagia) can also occur during menstrual cycles
- Headache: Hormonal changes can result in increased headaches
Treatment of PCOS includes oral contraception to help regulate menses, Metformin to prevent diabetes, Statins to control increases in cholesterol, and hormones to increase fertility.
PCOS Awareness Association has teamed up with Amino- an organization that helps women with PCOS find a health care provider who is familiar and may specialize in treating PCOS.