Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a hormonal disorder that affects women. It affects women from age 15 to 44(referred to as their childbearing age).
This syndrome affects the female ovaries, the reproductive organs that produce estrogen, and progesterone – hormones that control the menstrual cycle. The ovaries also produce a small number of male hormones called androgens. PCOS affects up to 27 percent of women of childbearing age.
It involves cysts in the ovaries, high levels of male hormones, and irregular periods.
Studies have shown that women with PCOS often increase the amount of inflammation in their bodies. Excess weight can also contribute to inflammation. Studies have also linked inflammation to higher androgen levels
If detected early PCOS can be treated easily, weight loss can also reduce the risk and help one ward off complications such as heart disease and type 2 diabetes
Birth control pills and diabetes drugs can help fix the hormone imbalance and improve symptoms.
Studies have shown that many women have PCOS but have not been diagnosed with the syndrome.
Common symptoms of PCOS
For some women, PCOS is discovered early enough during their first menstrual cycle, and for some others, the syndrome is detected after they have gained excess weight. The symptoms vary from individual to individual. Some common symptoms include
- Irregular periods. Lack of ovulation prevents the endometrium(i.e uterine linen) from shedding every month. Some women with PCOS experience eight periods or less per year.
- Heavy bleeding. The endometrium builds up for a longer period, so one’s periods may be heavier than normal.
- Hair growth. More than 70% of women with this condition grow hair on the face and body, including the back, abdomen, and chest. Excess hair growth is called hirsutism.
- Acne. Male hormones can make the skin oilier than usual and cause breakouts on areas like the face, chest, and upper back.
- Weight gain. Up to 80 percent of women with PCOS are overweight or obese.
- Male-pattern baldness. The hair on the scalp gets thinner and falls out which causes one to get bald.
- Darkening of the skin. Dark patches of skin can form in body creases like those on the neck, in the groin, and under the breasts.
- Headaches. These hormone changes activate in some women.