Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) — which affects as many as five million women in the United States — is a condition that develops due to an imbalance in your reproductive hormones. As September is PCOS Awareness Month, it’s a good time to get to know more about the disease and what your risk factors are for developing it.
Our providers at The Guirguis Obstetrics & Gynecology Group specialize in diagnosing and treating PCOS. In this blog, they explain what PCOS is, what some of the risk factors for developing it are, and how the condition can be treated.
Polycystic ovary syndrome occurs when you have excess amounts of androgen. Androgen is predominantly a male hormone, although women naturally do have small amounts of the hormone, too. In many cases, women with PCOS also have too much insulin, a hormone that helps convert the foods you eat into the energy you need to function.
Because of the excess androgens and insulin, PCOS can affect the function of your ovaries. Your ovaries, which contain your eggs, release your eggs every month during your period.
If your ovaries don’t work properly, you can experience irregular periods and difficulties getting pregnant (infertility).
Other issues that PCOS can cause include:
PCOS can also impact your health in other ways. Women with PCOS may have a higher risk of developing high blood pressure and Type 2 diabetes.
The exact causes of PCOS still aren’t understood well. What we do know is that many women with PCOS have several risk factors in common.
One of the biggest risks for developing PCOS includes having a family history of the disease. If your mother has PCOS, you might develop it, too, because of prenatal exposure to high androgen levels and excess insulin.
Other risk factors for developing PCOS can include:
If you have these risks, you can schedule a diagnostic evaluation with our team at The Guirguis Obstetrics & Gynecology Group. We offer in-office pelvic exams, blood testing, and ultrasound technology to evaluate the health of your ovaries.
There’s currently no cure for PCOS. However, we can work with you to make necessary lifestyle and diet changes to reduce your risk for troublesome PCOS symptoms. Effective treatment options for PCOS can include:
Most PCOS treatment plans start with lifestyle changes. You should focus on maintaining a healthy body weight and eating a high-fiber diet to better control your insulin levels.
You should also get at least 30 minutes of exercise every day to stay fit and support your overall health.
There are a number of medications available to help manage PCOS symptoms. Medications may include oral birth control pills that contain estrogen and progestin to reduce androgen levels and regulate your periods.
There are also medications available to reduce the effects of androgens to clear up acne and slow the growth of body hair.
You may also need medications to control your insulin levels if you have diabetes or prediabetes, a condition where your blood sugar levels are abnormally high but not high enough to be considered diabetes.
If you have symptoms of PCOS or need help managing your condition, book an appointment online or over the phone with The Guirguis Obstetrics & Gynecology Group today.