September is PCOS Awareness Month. PCOS stands for Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome. Many women have PCOS but not every woman knows they have it. PCOS is a syndrome in which a woman’s hormones are out of balance. PCOS can affect many aspects of a woman’s health, from her menstrual cycle, acne and to extra hair growth on the face.
Most women with PCOS develop numerous small cysts on their ovaries. That is why it is called polycystic ovary syndrome.
Symptoms of PCOS
Symptoms of PCOS may include any or all of the following:
Irregular menstrual cycles
Increased hair growth on the face, chest, stomach and other places where women typically do not grow hair
Ovarian cysts – The cysts are not harmful but lead to hormone imbalances
Baldness or thinning hair
Too much insulin
Depression or mood swings
The hormone imbalances that are part of PCOS can contribute to many of these symptoms because there is more testosterone. Hormones affect a woman’s menstrual cycle, hair growth, mood, and appearance.
Causes of PCOS and Treatments
There is no known cause for PCOS. It may be genetic and it seems to run in families. To make a diagnosis of PCOS, your doctor will talk with you about the variety of symptoms you’re having. He or she may use an ultrasound to observe cysts on your ovaries. Blood tests can detect a high level of androgens and check for blood sugar levels in your blood, which may indicate insulin resistance.
Because extra weight contributes to several of the symptoms of PCOS, a healthy diet and exercise routine are important. Pre-diabetes and diabetes are a concern. Extra weight can lead to heart trouble, difficulty sleeping, depression, or sleep apnea. Many of the symptoms of PCOS are inter-related.
If you are experiencing more than one of these symptoms, talk with your doctor at Pacific Women’s Center. Diagnosis and treatment of PCOS can help manage your symptoms.