An Introduction to PCOS

By Charisma P

PCOS or polycystic ovary syndrome is an endocrinopathy (essentially, a hormonal disorder) affecting women of reproductive age that can threaten fertility. It is caused by the overproduction of androgen hormones stimulating your ovaries to produce fluid-filled sacs called cysts.

What are the symptoms of PCOS? 🤷‍♀️

Could I possibly have PCOS?  Watch out for these symptoms:

  • Excessive hair growth due to high levels of androgen hormones (hirsutism)
  • Missed periods
  • The presence of pockets of cysts in the ovaries (as diagnosed by a doctor)
  • Acne
  • Low energy levels 
  • Weight gain, inability to lose weight

Three Types of PCOS

  1. Insulin Resistant PCOS  is a condition when there is impaired insulin performance. Caused by an inactive lifestyle, smoking and stress.
  2. Post-Pill PCOS is the most common type because of the side effects of birth control pills, for most women, this effect doesn't last long and the body will ovulate again after the pill's effect is over.
  3. Inflammatory PCOS  is closely related to Insulin Resistant PCOS. The reason being the inflammation that occurs inside triggers an increase in androgen hormones which can also trigger PCOS

Although the exact causes of PCOS are still unknown, the following are closely related to the problem of excess androgen production:

    • Insulin levels, especially women who have a history of diabetes mellitus or obesity, leading to insulin resistance
    • Genetic factors, a history of family members who have suffered from PCOS

PCOS Cannot Be Cured, But The Symptoms Can Be Managed 👩‍⚕️🏥

PCOS and its symptoms can be managed. Some helpful lifestyle changes such as adopting a healthy diet, regular exercise, increased intake of vegetables, protein and healthy fats can also help. Various medical treatments can also be used to treat PCOS such as:

  • Hormonal Contraception
  • Contraceptives in the form of birth control pills, vaginal rings, injections, or spiral contraceptives may be suggested by your doctor to help with your PCOS. Hormone therapies such as progestin are commonly used to help regulate the menstrual cycle.

  • Metformin Consumption
  • Consumption of metformin can help increase ovulation, regulate the menstrual cycle, reduce symptoms of hirsutism, lose weight (if accompanied by a healthy diet and exercise), Metformin which is commonly used as a diabetes drug can also be prescribed for PCOS. Even so, you must consult a doctor first to get the right dose

  • Fertility Treatments
  • For women with PCOS who are planning on being pregnant, doctors will usually recommend injections of hormones (gonadotropins) or prescribe special drugs to trigger ovulation such as clomiphene and letrozole.

  • Ovarian Surgery
  • With this surgery, the doctor will make a small incision in the abdomen using a laparoscope with a needle. The goal is to break a small part of the net of cysts to make the ovulation process easier.

    Next Steps 

    If you suspect that you may have PCOS, plan a regular visit with your OB-GYN! Are you a PCOS warrior? Engage and connect with @nonawoman on Instagram and share your story.

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