Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) – Symptoms and causes
April 18, 2022
Polycystic ovary syndrome, also known as PCOS, is a hormonal condition that affects women’s hormonal levels. Due to this, women may experience irregular periods, excess hair growth, acne and infertility.
Polycystic Ovary Syndrome is a hormonal imbalance caused by ovaries creating excess male hormones. For example, if a woman has PCOS, her ovaries produce unusually high levels of hormones called androgens. This causes her reproductive hormone to become imbalanced. Women with PCOS often have erratic menstrual cycles, missed periods and unpredictable ovulation. In addition, small cysts may develop on their ovaries due to a lack of ovulation. However, despite the name “polycystic,” they do not need cysts on their ovaries to have PCOS.
Ovulation occurs when a mature egg is released from an ovary. This happens so a male sperm can fertilise it. If the egg is not fertilised, it is sent out of the body during the menstrual period. A woman doesn’t make enough of the hormones needed to ovulate in some cases. When ovulation doesn’t happen, the ovaries may develop many small cysts. These cysts produce hormones called androgens.
Women with PCOS often tend to have high levels of androgens which cause more problems with a woman’s menstrual cycle. Thusly, treatment for PCOS is usually done with medication.
What Role Do Hormones Play With Pcos?
When women have PCOS, their reproductive hormones are unbalanced, leading to problems with their ovaries, such as not having their period on time or not getting it.
The hormones that play a role in PCOS include:
- Androgens : They’re often called male hormones, and women have them, too. Women with PCOS tend to have higher levels of androgens.
- Insulin : This hormone manages blood sugar. If a woman has PCOS, her body might not react to insulin the way it should.
- Progesterone : With PCOS, the body may not have enough of this hormone. As a result, women might miss their periods for a long time.
Causes of PCOS
The exact cause of PCOS is not known. However, most experts think that several factors play a role, including genetics,
- High levels of androgens : Androgens are sometimes called “male hormones, and all women make small amounts of androgens. Women with PCOS have more androgens than usual. Higher than average androgen levels in women can prevent the ovaries from releasing an egg (ovulation) during each menstrual cycle and cause extra hair growth and acne.
- High insulin levels : Insulin is a hormone that controls how the food a person eats is changed into energy. Insulin resistance is when the body’s cells do not usually respond to insulin. As a result, the insulin blood levels become higher than usual. Many women with PCOS have insulin resistance, especially those who are obese, have unhealthy eating habits, do not get enough physical activity, and have a family history of diabetes.
- Genetics : In some cases, PCOS is linked to hereditary also.
Symptoms of PCOS
- Irregular Periods : A lack of ovulation may cause irregular periods, preventing the uterine lining from shedding every month.
- Heavy Bleeding : Since the uterine lining builds up for a more extended period, the flow of the periods is heavier than usual.
- Hair Growth : More than 70% of the women with PCOS grow hair on their face and body (arms, chest, belly and back)
- Acne : The male hormones make the skin oilier than usual and cause breakouts on the face, chest, and upper back.
- Obesity : About 80% of women with PCOS are overweight and have trouble losing weight.
- Darkening of the skin : Patches of dark skin, especially in the folds of the neck, armpits, groin and under the breasts.
- Infertility : PCOS is the most common cause of female infertility. Lack of ovulation can result in infertility.
How does PCOS affect the Body?
- Infertility: To get pregnant, ovulation is essential. When women don’t ovulate regularly, they don’t release eggs that need to be fertilised. As a result, PCOS is one of the leading causes of infertility in women
- Metabolic syndrome: Up to 80 per cent of women with PCOS are overweight or have obesity. Both obesity and PCOS increase the risk for
- high blood sugar
- high blood pressure
- low HDL “good” cholesterol
- high LDL “bad” cholesterol : these factors are called metabolic syndrome, and they increase the risk for:
- Heart disease
This condition causes repeated pauses in breathing during the night, interrupting sleep. Sleep apnea is more common in overweight women, especially if they also have PCOS. The risk for sleep apnea is 5 to 10 times higher in women with obesity and PCOS than in those without PCOS.
How is PCOS diagnosed?
In most cases, doctors can diagnose PCOS after an examination. They may take blood tests or perform an ultrasound to help with the diagnosis.
The doctors will:
- Talk about the symptoms and medical history.
- Ask about the family’s medical history.
- Check weight and blood pressure.
- Perform a pelvic exam to look for swollen ovaries or other growths in the uterus.
- Take blood tests to check hormone levels and glucose levels.
- Perform a pelvic ultrasound to look for cysts in the ovaries and check the thickness of the uterus lining.
People also ask
1. How do you know if you have PCOS?
The doctor may diagnose PCOS if you show these symptoms: Irregular periods. Higher androgen levels, a male hormone, are shown in blood tests or through symptoms like acne or extra hair growth on the face, chin, or body.
2. What is the Leading Cause of PCOS?
The exact cause of PCOS is unknown; however, there is evidence that genetics play a role. Several other factors include higher levels of male hormones called androgens: High androgen levels prevent the ovaries from releasing eggs, which causes an irregular menstrual cycle.
3. What Exactly Happens in PCOS?
PCOS is a pervasive hormone problem for women of reproductive/childbearing age. Women with PCOS may not ovulate, have high levels of androgens, and have many small cysts on the ovaries. As a result, PCOS can cause missed or irregular menstrual periods, excess hair growth, acne, infertility, and weight gain.
4. What is PCOS in a Woman?
Polycystic ovary syndrome is a hormonal disorder common among women of reproductive age. Women with PCOS may have infrequent or prolonged menstrual periods or excess male hormone levels. As a result, the ovaries may develop numerous small fluid collections and fail to release eggs regularly.