Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS): Symptoms, Complications, and Treatment




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What is polycystic ovary syndrome? 

A leading cause of infertility among women, PCOS, also known as Stein-Leventhal Syndrome, is one of the most common endocrine disorder in women.
It is a condition in which the levels of sex hormones in a woman namely, estrogen and progesterone, go out of balance. This leads to enlarged ovaries with cysts forming on the outer edges. Polycystic means multiple cysts, and usually, in this condition, it is seen that clusters of small fluid-filled cysts occur in the ovaries.
There is an overproduction of the male hormone known as androgen in a woman with PCOS. This is also called Hyperandrogenism, which is one of the primary symptoms of PCOS.
Most of the time women between the ages of 15-44 (of childbearing age) have PCOS and often go undiagnosed. It is when they have problems bearing children, during their twenties or thirties, that they go for a medical exam and get diagnosed with PCOS. PCOS can happen anytime after puberty and the usual signs are acne on the face, chest or upper back, irregularities in the menstrual cycle, excessive hair growth in areas where men usually have hair, thinning of hair on the scalp, and obesity.
If you notice any of these symptoms you need to consult your family doctor or a general physician immediately. Depending on your condition, he may refer you to an endocrinologist or an obstetrician/gynaecologist (Ob-Gyn).

How does polycystic ovary syndrome occur?

The ovaries in a woman’s body create an egg each month which, as a part of the normal menstrual cycle is released every month. This process is known as ovulation. This happens toward the end of the time you're fertile between periods.

In a woman suffering from PCOS, the egg may not be released during the ovulation period, as it should be. Ovulation then fails to occur and the hormone progesterone (which helps prepare the lining of the uterus (endometrium) to receive the egg, should it become fertilized by a sperm) is not created. This results in an irregular or absent menstrual cycle.

Apart from this, women with PCOS tend to have a higher amount of insulin, in the body due to insulin resistance, which results in elevated blood sugar levels.
Hence, they are more prone to developing diabetes.

Who is prone to polycystic ovary syndrome?

PCOS is a disorder which affects women, especially women:

  • who have a family history of PCOS
  • and girls who are obese are more likely to have PCOS.
  • between the ages of 14 to 44 are prone to PCOS.

What is the cause of polycystic ovary syndrome?

Termed as an idiopathic disorder (or in other words a disease not connected to any particular cause), the causes for PCOS are unknown.

However, there does seem to be certain associations to a family history of PCOS, insulin resistance, and lifestyle

What are the symptoms of polycystic ovary syndrome? How is polycystic ovary syndrome diagnosed?

The symptoms of PCOS include:


Diagnosis


To diagnose PCOS the doctor will first ask you about your and your family’s medical history.

To rule out any other causes of the symptoms, and diagnose PCOS, the doctor will perform a general physical exam. During the physical exam, the doctor will check your Body Mass Index (BMI), look for excess hair growth on the face or other areas in your body, skin discolouration, and will enquire about the regularity of the cycles of your periods.

For a proper diagnosis and to rule out other possibilities such as thyroid disorder, the doctor may ask you to undergo certain tests. The tests include:

 

  • Blood Tests: The blood tests will reveal if there is too much of androgen (the male hormones) in your body as well as other hormones which can indicate a thyroid condition instead of PCOS. The blood test will also include a test for sugar levels and diabetes.


  • Pelvic Exam: A pelvic exam will be performed to check for signs of extra male hormones.


  • Pelvic ultrasound: A pelvic ultrasound can reveal enlarged ovaries and the cysts on them.

What are the complications of polycystic ovary syndrome?

The complications of PCOS include:

What is the treatment of Polycystic Ovary Syndrome?

Medical Treatment

Based on the severity your PCOS symptoms the doctor may recommend certain medications such as birth control pills to make your periods regular, diabetes preventative medicines, medicines to help with hormonal imbalance and make pregnancy easier.


If you do not respond to the medications prescribed by the doctor, he may advise a surgery to reduce the number of cysts and improve ovarian function.

Exercise

Apart from helping in weight reduction, exercising can have numerous benefits. PCOS can make you prone to cholesterol and diabetes.  Exercising will lower your cholesterol, and thus lower your risk of suffering from atherosclerosis, and also help your body to respond better to insulin, thus reducing your risk of diabetes as well.

Exercising also helps the release of endorphins in your body, which are hormones that promote feelings of wellness. This can counter the feelings of anxiety and depression common among PCOS patients.

Aerobics, cardio exercises, strength training, brisk walking, cycling and swimming, pilates, zumba are some forms of exercises that can give wonderful results.

Traditional forms of exercises such as Yoga, Tai Chi, Qi Gong are also excellent for countering PCOS related complications.

Would you like to consult a doctor for Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) ?

Patient Experiences

Ruchita v. Parmar
PCOD Cyst Reduced
The pcod cyst reduced and endometrium wall also become healthy. Bleeding also control and now normal.. Dr. Sunita mam is also nice n friendly in nature n very helpful with all such problems. All therapist are nice. I recommend NAP Therapy for PCOS & Infertility....Read Less
Doctor in this story :Dr. Sunita Jonwal
Dr Jonwal's Niramay Ayush Panchkarm Health Institute & Research Centre
Shreya More
Treatment for Polycystic Ovary Disease
Thanks Dr. Sunita for curing my Polycystic ovary Disease in two cycle treatment. Now my periods are on time & also natural ovulation. My hormonal imbalance is corrected. I am feeling positive & fresh. Dr is very good & caring....Read Less
Doctor in this story :Dr. Sunita Jonwal
Dr Jonwal's Niramay Ayush Panchkarm Health Institute & Research Centre
asha patel
Extreme PCOD
We have been visiting Dr Srilatha since 15th Aug 2015 for infertility treatment. I 25 year old and having PCOS and hence was not able to ovulate. I was trying to get pregnant since last 1 year. Doctor not only understood my medical problems but also she handled me emotionally very well. She started with minimal medicines. We lost hope in medicines after 4 cycles and were planning for histo-laproscopy in my last cycle. Doctor explained me to give nature some time and not to go for surgery so soon. And boom!! this cycle I am pregnant. I am very happy :) :). We would recommend Dr Srilatha to every1 who is suffering from infertility. Its sooner the better to visit her....Read Less
Doctor in this story :Dr. Srilatha Gorthi
Revive Multi-Specialty Clinics & Fertility Centre

Questions answered by trusted doctors

Verified User
I hv pcos and doctor has asked me to loose weight bt pcos make it so difficult for me i feel depressive at times feels like crying
Dr. Disha Sridhar
Obstetrician, Bangalore
Please read my blog on PCOS. Hope that helps.
Dr. Chethan R S
General Physician, Bangalore
Hi...., Consider dietary changes. Low-fat, high-carbohydrate diets may increase insulin levels, so you may want to consider a low-carbohydrate diet .. Don't severely restrict carbohydrates; instead, choose complex carbohydrates, which are high in fiber. The more fiber in a food, the more slowly it's digested and the more slowly your blood sugar levels rise. High-fiber carbohydrates include whole-grain breads and cereals, whole-wheat pasta, bulgur wheat, barley, brown rice, and beans.
Verified User
I have pcos and period do not come from 8 months now. Should i take contraceptive pills? Married 8 years now. Do not have any kid. To whom i should consult?
Dr. Venkat Raghav
General Physician, Bangalore
Polycystic ovary syndrome  is a problem in which a woman's hormones are out of balance. It can cause problems with your periods and make it difficult to get pregnant. One of the best treatments for PCOS is a healthy lifestyle. A healthy diet low in refined carbohydrates is important, as this can help regulate blood sugar levels. Exercise can also help the body regulate insulin and keep excess weight off. Losing weight is challenging with PCOS.Regarding pills you need to consult gynaecologist
Ask health queries and get free answers from doctors in 24 hrs

Did you know?

Women in Eastern India Are More Affected

Around 18% of the women, especially from Eastern India, suffer from PCOS.

Women in Child-Bearing Age Group More At Risk

The increasing trend of PCOS is predominantly seen among the women in the child-bearing age group of 14 to 30 years.

Medical Conditions Associated With PCOS

PCOS is associated with several other medical conditions such as insulin resistance, type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure and heart disease. Undiagnosed PCOS can lead to infertility.

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Home Remedies

Take Fish Oil Capsules

Loaded with omega-3 fatty acids, fish oil capsules can lower the androgen levels of the body thus reducing the symptoms of PCOS. Fish oil capsules also increases insulin sensitivity in the body which can reduce the risk of diabetes.

Take Apple Cider Vinegar

Apple Cider Vinegar can keep your blood sugar under control by keeping insulin levels at a check. Mix two teaspoons of apple cider vinegar to a glass of water and drink it everyday on empty stomach in the morning. You will gradually notice an improvement in the symptoms related to PCOS.

Cut Out Refined Sugar and Grains From Your Diet

Sugar affects the body’s insulin production, and refined grains metabolize to sugar in the body. You would do well to cut out both of these from your regular diet. Instead, incorporate more fiber-rich foods like whole-grain products in your diet. Plant foods are the best.

Quit Smoking

Women who smoke have higher levels of androgen in the body. This prevents ovulation from occurring. Doing away with the smoking habit can greatly reduce the symptoms of PCOS.

Consume Tulsi Leaves

Eating 10 - 12 Tulsi leaves on empty stomach in the morning can help control androgen levels in your body and also keep the insulin levels in your body in check.

Add Cinnamon Into Your Diet

Apart from reducing blood sugar levels and reducing insulin resistance, cinnamon increases the odds of pregnancy. So, go ahead and sprinkle a little cinnamon on that milkshake or yogurt, or add a little to that cake when you bake.

Add Flaxseeds Into Your Diet

Flaxseed helps to decrease androgen levels in the body. Flaxseeds also contain lignans, that help in increasing the production of Sex Hormone Binding Globulin (SHBG) in the liver, which binds tightly to 3 sex hormones, estrogen; dihydrotestosterone (DHT), and testosterone, and carries them through the blood. Women with PCOS have low levels of SHBG level, which in turn increases the levels of free testosterone. This creates a hormonal imbalance. Since flaxseeds are high in fiber they also lower cholesterol levels and reduce the risk of heart disease.
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