Annual Women’s Health Section
Approximately 1 in 10 women experience Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS). Here’s what you should know.
By Lucy Morris
What Is PCOS?
Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, often referred to as PCOS, is a common condition caused by a hormonal imbalance in women. This imbalance, if not controlled, can lead to a range of serious health issues, such as abnormal menstruation, difficulty getting pregnant, high cholesterol, type 2 diabetes, an increased risk of endometrial cancer, as well as an increased risk of depression.
What Causes PCOS?
Though the cause for PCOS is chromosomal, no one currently knows what triggers it. The imbalance of hormones surrounding the cysts that occur on the ovaries causes confusion in the body, which can lead to insulin resistance, decreased metabolism, or increased androgens, all of which can cause a chain reaction of developing symptoms.
Symptoms & Signs
PCOS has a range of symptoms including:
- Irregular periods
- Excess hair on your face, chin, neck, or other parts of your body that are typical of male hair growth (hirsutism)
- Weight gain or difficulty losing weight
- Skin tags
- Thinning hair or hair loss
Diagnosis & Management
When it comes to diagnosis of PCOS, it is typically “ruled in” by your doctor – also known as a diagnosis of exclusion. Your doctor might evaluate your menstrual history to determine if the irregularities in your cycle are chronic or fall in a pattern. An ultrasound test verifies if there are multi-cystic features on your ovaries. Lab results confirm whether or not your insulin and/or hormone levels are abnormal. If diagnosed, there is no cure for PCOS, but there are many methods of effective management, including lifestyle changes and medication prescribed by your doctor. HS