Poly Cystic Ovarian Disease

Poly Cystic Ovarian Disease” or “Poly cystic ovarian syndrome” is a hormonal disorder which presents with complaints like menstrual irregularities, weight gain and obesity, male-pattern hair growth, metabolic syndrome, Pimples and Infertility.

P.C.O.S,also known as Stein-Leventhal Syndrome is generally seen in the Reproductive women aged between the group of 16-34.In this syndrome, instead of one mature follicle; multiple immature follicles are formed in the ovaries. These are seen as small collections of fluid (follicles or cysts) in an ultrasound examination. Ovulation is hampered which makes the chances pregnancy quite slim.

With a treatment, proper diet and exercise schedule; P.C.O.S is quite curable although the management of this condition differs from person to person.

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Poly-cystic ovary syndrome (P.C.O.S) is a health problem that can affect a woman’s:

  • Menstrual cycle
  • Ability to have children
  • Appearance
  • Hormones
  • Blood vessels
  • Heart
  • Depression

P.C.O.S and Weight gain 

Between P.C.O.S and body weight, it’s a long, enticing affair that takes place. P.C.O.S makes it difficult for the body to use insulin; a hormone that is responsible for converting food starch into energy. As a result, your body becomes insulin resistant, and stores up the energy as fat instead of burning it out. High insulin levels make it a troublesome affair to keep up an ideal weight.

 P.C.O.S causes

The cause of P.C.O.S is unknown. But most experts think that several factors, including genetics, could play a role. Women with P.C.O.S are more likely to have a mother or sister with P.C.O.S, but genetics may be a reason.

A main underlying problem with P.C.O.S is a hormonal imbalance. In women with P.C.O.S, the ovaries make more androgen than normal. The Androgen are male hormones that women also make. High levels of these hormones affect the development and release of eggs during ovulation.

 

High androgen levels can lead to:

  • Acne
  • Excessive hair growth
  • Weight gain
  • Problems with ovulation

  P.C.O.D or P.C.O.S symptoms

  • Menstrual irregularities- are the commonest problem PCOD patients present with. This can be in the form of scanty menses, prolonged menstrual cycles, prolonged and heavy menses or absent menses.
  • Weight gain and obesity– Because of hormonal imbalances most women gradually gain weight. There are few women or adolescents who do not gain weight. They are known as Lean P.C.O.S.
  • Male-pattern hair growth (excessive growth of thick, dark terminal hair in women where hair growth is normally absent) may be seen on the upper lip, chin, neck, side burn area, chest, upper or lower abdomen, upper arm, and inner thigh.
  • Pimples- (Acne) is a skin condition that causes oily skin and blockages in hair follicles.

 

  •  Infertility – Many women with P.C.O.S do not ovulate regularly, and it may take these women longer to become pregnant. An infertility evaluation is often recommended after 6 to 12 months of trying to become pregnant.
  • Metabolic syndrome– Many patients with polycystic ovary syndrome (P.C.O.S) also have features of the metabolic syndrome, including insulin resistance, Diabetes, obesity, and an increased risk for heart disease.
  • Skin tags — excess flaps of skin in the armpits or neck area
  • Pelvic pain
  • Patches of skin on the neck, arms, breasts, or thighs that are thick and dark brown or black
  • Sleep apnea — when breathing stops for short periods of time while asleep
  • Anxiety or depression.

How do I know if I have P.C.O.S? 

There is no single test to diagnose P.C.O.S. Your doctor will take the following steps to find out if you have P.C.O.S or if something else is causing your symptoms.

Medical history. Your doctor will ask about your menstrual periods, weight changes, and other symptoms.

Physical exam. Your doctor will want to measure your blood pressure, body mass index (BMI), and waist size. He or she also will check the areas of increased hair growth. You should try to allow the natural hair to grow for a few days before the visit. A glucose (sugar) level in your blood is also measured.

Pelvic exam. Your doctor might want to check to see if your ovaries are enlarged or swollen by the increased number of small cysts.

Hormone exam. Your doctor may check the androgen hormone Ultrasound (ultra sonogram). Your doctor may do a test that uses sound waves to take pictures of the pelvic area. It might be used to examine your ovaries for cysts and check the endometrium (lining of the womb). This lining may become thicker if your periods are not regular.

P.C.O.S Treatment

Because there is no cure for P.C.O.S, it needs to be managed to prevent problems. Treatment goals are based on your symptoms, whether you want to become pregnant, and lowering your chances of getting heart disease and diabetes. Many women will need a combination of treatments to meet these goals. Some treatments for P.C.O.S include:

Lifestyle change-Many women with P.C.O.S are overweight or obese, which can cause health problems. You can help manage your P.C.O.S by eating healthy and exercising to keep your weight at a healthy level. Healthy eating tips include:

  • Limiting processed foods and foods with added sugars
  • Adding more whole-grain products, fruits, vegetables, and lean meats to your diet
  • This helps to lower blood glucose (sugar) levels, improve the body’s use of insulin, and normalize hormone levels in your body. Even a 10 percent loss in body weight can restore a normal period and make your cycle more regular.
  • Birth control pills. For women who don’t want to get pregnant, birth control pills can:
  • Control menstrual cycles.
  • Reduce male hormone levels.
  • Help to clear acne.

Medicine for increased hair growth or extra male hormones. Medicines called anti-androgens may reduce hair growth and clear acne. Anti-androgens are often combined with birth control pills. These medications should not be taken if you are trying to become pregnant.

Before taking any Medicines tell your doctor if you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant. Do not breastfeed while taking this medicine.

Other options include:

  • Creams to reduce facial hair.
  • Laser hair removal or electrolysis to remove hair.
  • Hormonal treatment to keep new hair from growing.

Getting pregnant with P.C.O.S (Poly-cystic ovary syndrome)- 

Women with P.C.O.S seem to have higher rates of:

  • Miscarriage
  • Premature delivery
  • Pregnancy-induced high blood pressure
  • Gestational diabetes

Fertility medications-Lack of ovulation is usually the reason for fertility problems in women with P.C.O.S. Several medications that stimulate ovulation can help women with P.C.O.S become pregnant. Even so, other reasons for infertility in both the woman and man should be ruled out before fertility medications are used.

  • IVF-Another option is in vitro fertilization (IVF). IVF offers the best chance of becoming pregnant in any given cycle. It also gives doctors better control over the chance of multiple births.
  • Surgery– “Ovarian drilling” is a surgery that may increase the chance of ovulation. It’s sometimes used when a woman does not respond to fertility medicines. This surgery can lower male hormone levels and help with ovulation. But, these effects may only last a few months.

Is P.C.O.S life threatening?

Women with P.C.O.S have greater chances of developing several serious health conditions. Recent studies found that:

  • Women with P.C.O.S can have a great chance of diabetes or pre-diabetes at early age.
  • Women with P.C.O.S are at greater risk of having high blood pressure.
  • Women with P.C.O.S can develop sleep apnea. This is when breathing stops for short periods of time during sleep.
  • Women with P.C.O.S may also develop anxiety and depression. It is important to talk to your doctor about treatment for these mental health conditions.
  • Irregular menstrual periods and the lack of ovulation cause women to produce the hormone estrogen, but not the hormone progesterone. Progesterone causes the endometrium (lining of the womb) to shed each month as a menstrual period. Without progesterone, the endometrium becomes thick, which can cause heavy or irregular bleeding. Over time, this can lead to endometrial hyperplasia and Cancer.

 I have P.C.O.S. What can I do to prevent complications?

If you have P.C.O.S, get your symptoms under control at an earlier age to help reduce your chances of having complications like diabetes and heart disease. Talk to your doctor about treating all your symptoms, rather than focusing on just one aspect of your P.C.O.S, such as problems getting pregnant. Also, talk to your doctor about getting tested for diabetes regularly. Other steps you can take to lower your chances of health problems include:

  • Eating right
  • Exercising
  • Not smoking

Managing P.C.O.S or P.C.O.S weight loss

Following lifestyle and diet changes can help manage P.C.O.S symptoms to an extent-

Food to avoid- 

  • Fried/packaged/processed foods
  • Foods with high Glycemic index.
  • Food congaing alcohol.

Exercises for P.C.O.S 

  • Work out at least 5 times every week for at least 30 minutes
  • Running, swimming, yoga are helpful.
  • Strengthening exercises.
  • Aerobics.

Even if you don’t lose weight, exercise in P.C.O.S helps to improve things like- insulin sensitivity, frequency of ovulation, cholesterol, body composition.

Getting treatment for P.C.O.S can help with these concerns and help boost your self-esteem. It is advised that you should consult gynecologist who can help you based on your symptoms and requirements to manage PCOD/P.C.O.S.

P.C.O.S diet

  • Frequently have small meals 4-6 times a day.
  • Drink adequate amount of water (8-10 glasses), stay hydrated.
  • Eat less fast food, stick to the home cooked meals.
  • Add more vegetables with high anti-oxidants and high fiber to your diet.

How can I cope with the emotional effects of P.C.O.S?

Having P.C.O.S can be difficult. You may feel:

  • Embarrassed by your weight gain.
  • Worried about not being able to get pregnant.
  • Depressed.

P.C.O.S Awareness

There are many communities which are helping women struggling with P.C.O.C/P.C.O.D. You can join them on major social networks like Facebook, Twitter. Here are some links to the communities dedicated towards PCOS/PCOD.

http://www.pcosaa.org/

http://www.pcosfoundation.org/

 

P.C.O.S and Menopause

P.C.O.S affects many systems in the body. So, many symptoms may persist even though ovarian function and hormone levels change as a woman nears menopause. For instance, excessive hair growth continues, and male-pattern baldness or thinning hair gets worse after menopause. Also, the risks of complications (health problems) from P.C.O.S, such as heart attack, stroke, and diabetes, increase as a woman gets older.

 

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