18 Feb Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome Basics for a Fertility Doctor
Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) is a common disorder for females in the reproductive age. It can cause irregular menstruation and make it difficult for women to get pregnant. The cause of this disorder is unknown but it can be described as a genetic disorder. It can be commonly detected using ultrasound or other forms of pelvic imaging. There is approximately 20-33% of the population that is affected.
However, not all women with PCOS have the same clinical and biochemical features such as menstrual cycle disturbances, obesity, hirsutism, acne and abnormalities of biochemical profiles. The presentation of patients can be so different that one or any of the combinations may be present in association with an ultrasound picture of polycystic ovaries.
PCOS is familial and can exist without clinical signs. Most women have small cysts in their ovaries which are not released. With the multiple cysts over time, this disorder is hence called polycystic ovarian disease. The cysts are not harmful but many lead to hormone imbalances.
In PCOS, more androgens (male hormones) are made causing problem with ovulation, acne, and the growth of extra facial and body hair. Symptoms may be mild at first but most patients present with acne, weight gain, difficulty losing weight, extra hair on the face and body, thinning head hair, irregular periods, fertility problems and depression.
PCOS is diagnosed by asking the patient her history of past health, symptoms and menstrual cycles. A physical exam is conducted to look for signs of PCOS such as extra body hair and possibly high blood pressure. A series of lab tests is also done to check blood sugar, insulin and other hormone levels. This can help to rule out other hormonal problems such as thyroid problems. A pelvic ultrasound is also used to look for cysts in the ovaries.
PCOS can be managed using a healthy lifestyle management such as encouraging regular exercise, having a healthy diet and controlling weight. These three steps are the key management for PCOS patients. Bad habits such as smoking should also be avoided. Doctors may prescribe birth control pills to reduce symptoms and metformin to help regulate menstrual cycles. If the patient is looking to conceive, fertility medication can also be prescribed. PCOS patients often report of feeling depressed and they are encouraged to participate in a support group.
PCOS is one of the commonest endocrine (hormonal) problems and women with PCOS are characterized by insulin resistance, central obesity, and dyslipidemia which appears to increase their risk of diabetes and heart disease. Patients should realize the importance of diet, activity, reduction of stress, behavior modification, social support from family and friends and ultimately, smoking cessation.
Pacific Reproductive Center offers top treatment for PCOS and helps people reach their fertility goals time and time again. Dr. Rifaat Salem is an exceptional fertility doctor with over twenty years experience. Call us today for top treatment!
- Sheehan MT. Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome: Diagnosis and Management. Clinical Medicine & Research. 2004; 2(1):13-27.
- Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). WebMD. http://www.webmd.com/women/tc/polycystic-ovary-syndrome-pcos-topic-overview#3. Accessed 2/6/2017.