Ovarian polycystosis (PCOS) is a chronic endocrine disorder in women. In women who have PCOS, the ovaries produce follicles, but the ovules do not mature or leave the ovary. The immature follicles can become liquid-filled sacs called “cysts.”
Causes of PCOS
The cause is not known exactly. It is possible that it is due to certain genes. The problem seems to be related to insulin resistance, which generates elevated levels of this hormone. The raised levels of insulin produce too much androgen from the ovaries. This prevents ovulation and generates the formation of polycystic ovaries. Androgen excess is also associated with the following:
- Hirsutism: unwanted hair growth on the face and body
- Insulin resistance
Among the factors that can increase the probability of suffering from PCOS are the following:
- Relatives with PCOS
- Irregular menstrual cycle
- Sedentary lifestyle
Signs and Symptoms of PCOS
- Amenorrhea: irregular menstruation or absence of menstruation
- Dark areas on the skin of the neck, groin, and armpit
- Hair loss
- Type 2 diabetes
- Your doctor will ask about medical history and symptoms you are experiencing. You will have a physical examination. An ultrasound can be done to detect several cysts in the ovaries.
- Blood and urine tests may be done to check for probable causes or to check if you are pregnant.
Treatment and Management
The treatment varies depending on whether you want to conceive a baby or not. The goal of treatment is to act on the underlying insulin resistance that accompanies the diagnosis of PCOS.
Other steps of treatment include the following:
- Control the symptoms
- Lose weight if you are overweight
- Eat healthy
- Take medications to improve insulin resistance, glucose intolerance and control prediabetes
- Take oral contraceptives
- Induce ovulation (if you want to get pregnant)
- Metformin or clomiphene citrate
- Advanced reproductive technologies
- Prevent complications
- Anti-androgenic drugs to block future hirsutism (unwanted hair growth)
Oral contraceptives regulate the periods. Also, by making the uterine wall blood on a regular basis, they elevate the risk of overgrowth or cancer. These medications also control abnormal hair growth and acne by suppressing androgens. Instead, fertility drugs can be given to stimulate ovulation in women who want to become pregnant.