A) What is PCOS?
It is a condition of hormonal imbalance and is the most frequently encountered endocrinological condition in females.
B) Why does it happen?
It happens when you are genetically predisposed to develop a pattern of male hormone excess. There are also various patient-specific factors and environmental influences which may facilitate these genes to express themselves.
C) What are the clinical features?
Clinical features can include obesity, increased skin pigmentation, menstrual cycle irregularity, acne, oily skin, increased hair growth in unwanted areas (upper lips, chin, tummy etc.) and difficulty in getting pregnant.
D) How is the condition diagnosed?
It is diagnosed by a combination of clinical features, abnormal hormonal levels in blood tests and/or polycystic ovaries on ultrasound. Having only positive ultrasound findings in the absence of clinical features or abnormal blood reports does NOT make you have PCOS.
E) How is the condition managed?
The most important is lifestyle modification i.e. a combination of diet and exercise to maintain the optimum body weight. Drug treatment(mostly combined hormonal pills) can help regularize periods, reduce acne and unwanted hair growth. Women with PCOS trying to get pregnant may need medication to aid proper egg formation (ovulation induction).
F) What are the long-term effects of this condition, if any?
Women with PCOS are at an increased risk of developing diabetes, abnormal cholesterol levels, high blood pressure and heart disease. Women who bleed very infrequently (less than every 3 months) run a risk of developing cancer of the uterus (womb) in future.