Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), also known as Stein-Leventhal Syndrome, is a common hormonal disorder among women of reproductive age. The condition is called polycystic ovary syndrome because most women with the disorder have enlarged ovaries with multiple cysts. PCOS can cause infrequent menstruation, excess hair growth, acne, obesity and infertility.
PCOS causes The exact cause of PCOS is unknown but research has shown it may be due to insulin resistance and high levels of insulin, which cause the overproduction of male hormones, called androgens. Both lead to disturbances in the female hormones that control menstruation and ovulation.
PCOS symptoms Women with PCOS may experience irregular or absent menstruation, numerous cysts on the ovaries, high blood pressure, acne, high insulin levels or diabetes, infertility, excess facial hair, male-patterned baldness, and obesity.
PCOS diagnosis/tests There is no single test for diagnosing PCOS so your doctor will probably want to discuss your menstrual history to see if you have had irregular periods and will send you for blood tests to see if you have high levels of male hormones, to check your insulin and cholesterol levels and to rule out other medical conditions. She may also send you for a vaginal ultrasound to see if you have cysts on one or both ovaries.
PCOS treatment Several therapies are available to target the symptoms of PCOS although they may not deal with the underlying cause. Physicians often prescribe oral contraceptives to regulate menstrual periods to women with PCOS. Anti-androgenic agents help block male hormones and reduce unwanted hair growth and acne. Oral and injectable medications are also available to stimulate ovulation and treat infertility. Medications to lower insulin levels in the blood or improve insulin sensitivity may also help restore menstruation and lower the production of testosterone. Losing weight may help women with PCOS cut their risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes and lower insulin levels. Some women with PCOS find relief in alternative treatments, such as acupuncture, homeopathy and herbal remedies.Getting treatment can reduce the risk of complications, such as heart disease and diabetes.
PCOS prevention There’s no known way to prevent PCOS.
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