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PCOS: Definition, Symptoms, Types, Treatments

Lately, some women have complained about the changes that occur in their bodies. Some of these changes include irregular menstrual cycles, the emergence of a lot of acne, easy weight gain, psychological disorders, and difficulty getting pregnant.

According to Gynecology and Oncology Specialist, Professor Dr. H. Budi Santoso, dr., Sp.OG., (K), the changes experienced by some of these women are part of Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS). 

Read more on PCOS Healing Journey

PCOS is a fertility disorder experienced by women. PCOS itself is characterized by menstrual disorders and excessive levels of androgens in the body. People with PCOS have excess androgens that can cause the ovaries to produce fluid-filled sacs. This causes the egg cell to not develop properly. PCOS can make it difficult for sufferers to get pregnant as well as make them prone to high blood pressure and diabetes.

PCOS 101: Definitions of PCOS

PCOS is a condition in which a woman's body experiences a hormonal imbalance. This hormonal imbalance is caused by androgen levels being more dominant than estrogen.

PCOS is a condition that causes sufferers to have many small cysts on the ovaries. The ovaries are one of the most important reproductive organs for women. The ovaries’ main function is as a place to store and produce eggs. Every woman has two ovaries.

PCOS sufferers will experience several symptoms, such as fertility problems, irregular menstrual cycles, unideal weight, and a lot of androgen hormones. In addition, PCOS can also cause serious symptoms, such as diabetes and high blood pressure.

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

    Symptoms of PCOS

    Symptoms of PCOS develop in early puberty, especially when women experience menstruation for the first time. PCOS symptoms first appear in the teens to 20s.

    Over time, these PCOS symptoms can develop. An example is when a person experiences drastic weight gain.

    Some of the common symptoms of PCOS are as follows:

    1. Irregular Menstrual Cycle 
      The main symptom of PCOS is an irregular menstrual cycle. People with PCOS will experience periods that are infrequent, too long, or not at all.
      This can occur due to decreased ovulatory activity that occurs in the reproductive system which causes the uterine wall to not shed. People with PCOS may only experience 8 to 9 menstrual periods in 1 year.
    2. Excessive Hair Growth 
      Another symptom of PCOS is the growth of thick hair in several areas of the body, such as the chest, back, and abdomen. Hair growth is caused by increased levels of androgen.
      More than 70% of PCOS sufferers will experience excessive hair growth. Some cases experienced by PCOS sufferers cause facial hair to be thicker and darker.
    3. Acne
      Excessive production of androgen can also cause acne. This is because the production of excessive androgen causes the skin to become oilier than usual. Therefore, acne can appear in several areas, such as the face, chest, and back.
    4. Mood Changes
      PCOS can cause sufferers to produce irregular hormone levels. As a result, moods can be fickle and erratic. If this is allowed to persist, it can cause stress, depression, and other mental disorders.
    5. Skin Color Turns Dark
      Another symptom of PCOS is a darker discoloration of the skin. The skin will change to darker in areas such as the breasts, neck, groin, to the groin.
    6. Fertility Disorder
      This can be quite a serious symptom for women. When the body does not evolve properly, then of course it will cause interference with fertility. This condition can also make the body unable to produce enough eggs to be fertilized.

    If the sufferer finds it difficult to get pregnant, then it could be a sign of PCOS. You should immediately see a gynecologist for consultation and check-up.

       

      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

        PCOS Treatments👩‍⚕️🏥

        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:

        1. 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.
        2. 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
        3. 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.
        4. 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.

        Those are some explanations about PCOS. If you feel some of these symptoms, you should immediately see a specialist for consultation and get the right treatment.

        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. 

        Don't miss out Nona Woman's Organic Feminine Hygiene Products

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