According to the CDC, polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) is one of the most common female reproductive disorders and also one of the most common causes of infertility. While PCOS often causes symptoms, it is possible for some women to have this condition but not even know it. No matter whether you know someone who has it, you’re concerned that you might have it, or you’ve already been diagnosed, here’s what you should know about PCOS including its treatment options.
What Is PCOS?
Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) is both a hormonal imbalance and a metabolic disorder that can impact a woman’s general and reproductive health. It’s most common in women of childbearing age.
What are the signs and symptoms?
One of the most common signs of PCOS is an irregular menstrual period. This may mean that you experience a period too often or too infrequently. If your period is unpredictable it could be a sign of PCOS. Other warning signs include:
- Severe acne
- Hirsutism, or excessive hair growth (most common on the face, abdomen, and thighs)
- Oily skin
- Dark patches of skin
- Multiple cysts on the ovaries
What are the causes?
There is still so much that is unknown about PCOS, but it’s believed that this disorder may be the result of certain factors such as increased levels of the androgen hormone or insulin resistance.
How is PCOS treated?
An OBGYN will tailor their treatments to meet your needs, based on your symptoms, the severity of your condition, and whether or not you are planning to become pregnant (whether now or in the future). Treatment options may include certain lifestyle changes such as losing weight (if obese) by eating healthy and getting regular exercise. Some medications can help with irregular periods such as hormonal contraception. For women dealing with fertility issues, there are also medications (the most common is Clomifene) that can help women with PCOS get pregnant. Medications to control other symptoms such as excessive and unwanted hair growth can also be prescribed by your gynecologist.
If you are experiencing symptoms of PCOS, it’s important that you speak with your gynecologist to learn more. A gynecologist will be able to perform the appropriate tests to be able to determine what’s causing your symptoms and how to best treat the problem.