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Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) Overview

 Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) Overview
Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a condition in which the ovaries produce an abnormal amount of androgens, male sex hormones that are usually present in women in small amounts. The name polycystic ovary syndrome describes the numerous small cysts (fluid-filled sacs) that form in the ovaries. Ovulation occurs when a mature egg is released from an ovary. This happens so it can be fertilized by a male sperm. If the egg is not fertilized, it is sent out of the body during your period.

In some cases, a woman doesn’t make enough of the hormones needed to ovulate. When ovulation doesn’t happen, the ovaries can develop many small cysts. These cysts make hormones called androgens. Women with PCOS often have high levels of androgens. This can cause more problems with a woman’s menstrual cycle. And it can cause many of the symptoms of PCOS.

Symptoms Of PCOS

The symptoms of PCOS may include:
Missed periods, irregular periods, or very light periods
Ovaries that are large or have many cysts
Excess body hair, including the chest, stomach, and back (hirsutism)
Weight gain, especially around the belly (abdomen)
Acne or oily skin
Male-pattern baldness or thinning hair
Infertility
Headaches
Small pieces of excess skin on the neck or armpits (skin tags)
Dark or thick skin patches on the back of the neck, in the armpits, and under the breasts

What Causes PCOS?

The exact cause of PCOS is not known. Most experts think that several factors, including genetics, play a role:

High levels of androgens. Androgens are sometimes called “male hormones,” although all women make small amounts of androgens. Androgens control the development of male traits, such as male-pattern baldness. Women with PCOS have more androgens than normal. Higher than normal androgen levels in women can prevent the ovaries from releasing an egg (ovulation) during each menstrual cycle, and can cause extra hair growth and acne, two signs of PCOS.

High levels of insulin. Insulin is a hormone that controls how the food you eat is changed into energy. Insulin resistance is when the body’s cells do not respond normally to insulin. As a result, your insulin blood levels become higher than normal. Many women with PCOS have insulin resistance, especially those who have overweight or obesity, have unhealthy eating habits, do not get enough physical activity, and have a family history of diabetes (usually type 2 diabetes). Over time, insulin resistance can lead to type 2 diabetes

Can I Still Get Pregnant If I Have PCOS?

Yes. Having PCOS does not mean you can’t get pregnant. PCOS is one of the most common, but treatable, causes of infertility in women. In women with PCOS, the hormonal imbalance interferes with the growth and release of eggs from the ovaries (ovulation). If you don’t ovulate, you can’t get pregnant. Your doctor can talk with you about ways to help you ovulate and to raise your chance of getting pregnant.

PCOS Diagnosis

They might give you blood tests to measure your hormone levels, blood sugar, and cholesterol. An ultrasound can check your ovaries for cysts, look for tumors, and measure the lining of your uterus.

Summary

If you have any of these symptoms, let your doctor know. There are treatments or lifestyle changes you can try to rule out other health conditions and learn if you have PCOS. The sooner you get started, the sooner you can start feeling better.
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