Polycystic ovaries – what are the symptoms?

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Irregular menstruation, constantly gaining weight or acne – this may mean that you have polycystic ovaries. What else should you know about them and how to treat them?

PCOS, or polycystic ovary syndrome, is a problem many women face. However, some don’t know they have it because they can’t recognize the symptoms. And treatment is very important, sometimes even infertility can occur due to untreated PCOS. 

Polycystic ovary syndrome – what is it?

The cause of polycystic ovary syndrome is usually hormonal imbalance. The condition occurs when the pituitary gland produces too much LH and PSH hormone. The result is that more immature Graaf follicles appear in the ovaries. As a result, there is no ovulation, no corpus luteum, and no increase in progesterone in the blood.

The lack of regular menstruation is due to progesterone deficiency. In turn, the large number of Graaf follicles contributes to androgen production and excessive hairiness.

Interestingly, according to various studies, nowadays up to 12% of women suffer from polycystic ovary syndrome. However, this number may be underestimated, as some women do not go to the doctor, ignoring the symptoms and thinking that “it’s their beauty”. 

Symptoms of PCOS

What are the symptoms of PCOS? The most common are irregular or very scanty periods. Women notice that they begin to gain weight, which is unwarranted, such as not eating more, having a similar lifestyle as before, etc. In addition, acne often appears, usually on the back and chest, and excessive hair (not only on the face, but also on the back, thighs or buttocks). Hypertension often occurs, hair thins, and blood sugar levels rise. During an ultrasound, the doctor may see microcarcinomas. Women who struggle with polycystic ovarian syndrome also have difficulty getting pregnant. 

What tests should be done?

To find out if you have PCOS, you should visit a gynecologist-endocrinologist. He or she will perform a vaginal ultrasound and recommend a blood test for hormone levels. If the ultrasound shows that there are many tiny follicles in the ovaries, you can be sure that you are dealing with polycystic ovary syndrome.

How to treat?

Treating PCOS is quite difficult. In the past, part of the ovaries were removed, but this method is no longer used today. At the beginning a woman has to lose excess weight, and to do this she has to give up cigarettes. Nicotine causes the production of more androgens. 

Hormone therapy, which is supposed to restore the regularity of the cycle, is also essential. Usually contraceptives are used to lower the levels of LH and androgens in the ovaries.

Unfortunately, hormone therapy can take up to several years. Sometimes stopping the therapy after a few months allows a woman to get pregnant, but not always, sometimes ovulation-stimulating drugs are necessary. It is important to be under constant care of a specialist who will properly direct the whole treatment.

main photo: unsplash.com/Sasun Bughdaryan

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