PCOS or Polycystic ovary syndrome occurs due to a hormonal disorder, and it affects women of reproductive age from 14 to 44 years. PCOS affects the normal balance in the body’s level of hormones, so it might cause problems with conceiving. Polycystic ovary syndrome not only causes fertility problems but can also cause certain physical changes like hirsutism or excessive growth of hair on the face and the body because of the increased levels of the male hormone androgen with acne.
Also, some women also develop fluid-filled sacs on their ovaries known as cysts hence the name ”polycystic”, which means ”many cysts.” These sacs consist of immature eggs that do not go through the stage of ovulation and cause a disturbance in the normal hormone levels. In addition to that androgen, the male hormone disturbs the normal menstrual cycle, which results in fewer and irregular menstrual periods, also known as Oligomenorrhea.
Its symptoms include:
- darkened skin patches or skin tags
- irregular menstrual periods
- excessive growth of facial hair or hirsutism
- male-pattern baldness
- severe acne
- problems with getting pregnant
- weight gain
- extreme mood swings
- the appearance of fluid-filled sacs or cysts on the ovaries
- A woman is said to be suffering from polycystic ovary syndrome if they have two or more of the following:
- longer menstrual cycles which are of more than 35 days
- inflamed ovaries detected in an ultrasound
- too much of the male hormone associated with acne, hair growth on the face
- Because of the limited amount of information about this condition, there have been a lot of myths circulating around, which can negatively impact its treatment and diagnosis. Some of the myths associated with PCOS are:
Polycystic ovary syndrome occurs because of the ovaries
The main reason behind PCOS is the disrupted levels of hormones in the body and the appearance of cysts on the ovaries. Because of the imbalance in the hormone levels, the ovaries start to function abnormally, and there is an increased production of the male hormone androgen, which comes in the way of ovulation. Being overweight with diabetes also contributes to PCOS.
Because of insulin resistance, there is a build-up of insulin in the body, causing the ovaries to produce even more of the hormone androgen. This causes weight gain and disrupts the ovulation process making it harder for the woman to conceive.
Women suffering from PCOS cannot get pregnant
Polycystic ovary syndrome does make it hard for a woman to conceive. However, that can be easily treated. Those that are suffering from PCOS and being overweight can start ovulating again by simply losing the extra weight.
The weight loss does not have to be dramatic; to begin with, even losing 10 percent weight can help a great deal. Getting treatment with the help of medicines can also help; about 50 percent of the women that started taking the drug clomiphene showed positive results.
Polycystic ovary syndrome is painful
During a menstrual cycle each month, a mature egg is produced by the ovaries that then travels towards the fallopian tubes and waits to get fertilized by the sperm. The mature egg usually develops inside a follicle, which ruptures and releases the egg.
With PCOS due to the imbalance in the hormones, the egg cannot fully develop to the point that the follicle can rupture. As a result, the ovaries are covered with cysts that contain underdeveloped eggs, which causes the ovaries to get inflamed; however, since the cysts do not burst open, they do not cause pain.
Women suffering from PCOS are obese
Not all women that are suffering from polycystic ovary syndrome are obese, although being overweight does contribute to developing PCOS. The main way it is diagnosed is if a woman has elevated levels of the male hormone in her body, along with the appearance of acne and excessive facial hair. It is based on these signs that the doctor decides the type of treatment method.
Women who are not looking to get pregnant can take birth control pills that help in bringing down the male hormone’s elevated levels and also help with irregular menstruation. For women that are obese, losing the extra weight with the help of an exercise plan and a healthy diet can bring a lot of relief.
- Women with PCOS have pregnancy complications
Most women think that since polycystic ovary syndrome causes difficulty in conceiving, it also causes gestational complications. That is true to some extent as women with polycystic ovary syndrome who get pregnant can suffer from high blood pressure and gestational diabetes; however, they do not suffer any serious issues because of that. As opposed to what was thought earlier, they do not suffer from the risk of miscarriages as well.
FAQ Related to PCOS
Myths related to PCOS: Reference from pennmedicine.org and hormone.org