Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a common hormonal disorder affecting women of reproductive age. It is characterised by a variety of symptoms, including irregular menstrual cycles, excess androgen (male hormone) levels, and the formation of small cysts on the ovaries.
When a woman has PCOS, her ovaries may not regularly release mature eggs, leading to irregular or lack of menstruation, which can make it challenging for women with PCOS to conceive. Additionally, high levels of androgens can result in excess hair growth, acne, baldness, weight gain, insulin resistance and mood disturbances.
The exact cause of PCOS is unknown, but it is believed to occur due to a combination of genetic and environmental factors. Insulin resistance, a condition in which cells fail to respond to insulin properly, is commonly associated with PCOS. When the body develops insulin resistance, the pancreas produces more insulin, which in turn stimulates the ovaries to produce more androgens. This hormonal imbalance leads to the symptoms associated with PCOS.
Treatment for Polycystic ovary syndrome aims to address the symptoms while managing the underlying hormonal imbalance. Lifestyle modifications, including regular exercise and a healthy diet, play a crucial role in managing symptoms. Regular physical activity can help improve insulin sensitivity, thereby reducing androgen levels. A balanced diet that includes low-glycemic index foods, fibre, and lean proteins can aid in weight management.
Medical interventions may also be necessary to manage PCOS symptoms. Birth control pills are commonly prescribed to regulate the menstrual cycle and reduce androgen levels. They can also help reduce the risk of endometrial cancer, which can be increased in women with PCOS due to irregular menstrual bleeding. Anti-androgen medications may be used to reduce symptoms such as excess hair growth and acne. For women attempting to conceive, fertility medications or assisted reproductive techniques may be recommended.
PCOS is a complex hormonal disorder that affects many aspects of a woman’s health. However, with treatment, symptoms and hormone imbalances can be managed, improving their chances of achieving pregnancy if desired.