Understanding polycystic ovary syndrome
Women with PCOS can struggle with a variety of symptoms. Irregular periods, hair growth on the chest and face, acne, thinning hair, large ovaries, weight gain in the abdomen, skin tags, and dark patches on the neck or beneath the breasts are common. Family history plays a role in the risk of developing PCOS, and women with insulin resistance and obesity are also at higher risk of developing the condition.
The infertility connection
PCOS causes infertility for many women because the body cannot ovulate properly. In order to conceive, the ovaries must be able to release eggs. Since PCOS disrupts the ovulation cycle, pregnancy is difficult with this medical condition. Hormone imbalances also affect the growth of eggs. The immature eggs that the body produces often cannot be fertilized.
Making the diagnosis
Doctors will perform a medical examination and evaluation before diagnosing a patient with PCOS. Doctors can conduct a pelvic exam and perform an ultrasound to examine the uterus and ovaries for any signs of enlargement or cysts. Doctors will also administer blood tests to check blood glucose, cholesterol, triglyceride, and hormone levels.
Is PCOS treatable?
Once diagnosed, a treatment plan can be developed. The first intervention is usually lifestyle changes. The doctor may suggest losing weight, dieting, exercising, and limiting tobacco and alcohol use. Birth control or other medications can be prescribed to regulate the menstrual cycle. Acne, diabetes, and excessive hair growth caused by PCOS can also be treated.