The effect on hormones
Many symptoms of PCOS aren’t apparent to women. The condition affects a woman’s ovaries, which produce the hormones estrogen and progesterone, as well as male hormones called androgens. The follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) and luteinizing hormone (LH) stimulates follicle production and the release of the mature egg, respectively.
Managing menstrual cycles
Irregular periods can be one symptom of PCOS due to the interruption in the ovulation cycle by androgens. Doctors may prescribe birth control pills containing synthetic hormone alternatives to estrogen and progestin. Patients can take both estrogen and progestin, but some may not tolerate a combination and can rely on a progestin-only pill.
High levels of male hormones can impact the production and release of eggs. Some medications can stimulate ovulation. One prescription works by blocking estrogen’s activity while others decrease the production of estrogen. Low estrogen levels stimulate follicle production, which contains eggs. Any medication should not be used for extended periods to avoid side effects.
Many women with PCOS have insulin resistance, which means that cells in the body can’t use insulin properly. Insulin is a hormone that regulates sugar in the bloodstream to produce energy. When there is too much insulin, the ovaries begin to produce an excess of male hormones. Certain medications are used to decrease insulin in the bloodstream and can help manage weight.
When prescriptions don’t improve fertility results, doctors may prescribe medication containing FSH and LH. High levels of LH and low levels of FSH can be a recipe for disaster in terms of androgen levels and egg development, respectively. Patients are also advised to keep track of menstrual cycles and body temperatures to ensure ovulation is regular.
Preparing for a healthy pregnancy
PCOS makes getting pregnant extremely difficult, and when pregnancy does happen, complications can arise. Hormone imbalances and symptoms of PCOS can be alleviated with treatment plans consisting of exercise, healthy foods, and medication to return hormone levels to normal. Patients should consult with a doctor to establish a safe regimen to overcome PCOS and get pregnant.
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