Polycystic Ovary Syndrome
Polycystic Ovary Syndrome
Polycystic Ovary Syndrome is a gynaecological and endocrine disorder affecting about one in ten women of child bearing age. It is the single commonest cause of infertility in women. When you look at the ovaries of a woman suffering from Polycystic Ovary Syndrome their surface seems to be covered in small pea-sized cysts. But these are not of themselves the problem. The problem is that polycystic ovaries produce excessive androgens or male hormone and it is this excessive testosterone, circulating in a female body, which can wreak havoc.
What are the symptoms of Polycystic Ovary Syndrome?
Polycystic Ovary Syndrome affects different women very differently and symptoms can vary from the mild to the very severe. In the main the symptoms are:
- Frequent and prolonged menstrual periods or fewer or even the absence of periods altogether.
- Excessive facial and body hair or the loss or thinning of hair as in male pattern baldness.
- Acne caused by raised androgens.
- Obesity not necessarily caused by over eating or under exercising although dietary discretion and exercise will help. It is important for health professionals to keep the possibility of Polycystic Ovary Disease in mind when helping overweight women.
- Possible long term ill effects of polycystic disease are type 2 diabetes, hypertension, heart disease and depression caused by the sheer misery of this condition.
What are the causes of Polycystic Ovary Syndrome?
The actual cause of polycystic ovary disease is not known. Recent research suggests that there is a strong familial tendency with this syndrome although, as yet, a gene has not been identified.
How is Polycystic Ovary Syndrome diagnosed?
The diagnosis of this condition is made first of all by listening to what the woman is saying, asking the right questions, making the right observations and having an awareness of the possibility that this could be Polycystic Ovary Syndrome. After that the diagnosis can be confirmed by:
- Taking blood to measure androgen and other hormone levels particularly the thyroid hormones because an under active thyroid can mimic Polycystic Ovary Syndrome.
- Ultrasound scan will usually, although not always, show up the cysts in the surface of the ovaries.
How is Polycystic Ovary Syndrome treated?
The treatment of this horrible syndrome ideally requires a specialist team of endocrinologists, gynaecologists and dedicated care workers who understand the condition and who are used to helping and supporting women who have got it. Treatment will vary if the woman is endeavouring to become pregnant or if she is happy not becoming pregnant. It is much easier to manage Polycystic Ovary Syndrome in women not seeking to become pregnant because the best treatments are those designed to bring about a better hormonal balance and such treatments usually preclude ovulation.
Women with this condition can do a lot also to help themselves also by exercising and dieting vigilantly. This is not to in any way suggest that it is the person’s own fault that they are as they are. Time and effort may be required in explaining that diet and exercise are required over and above that required by a woman not suffering from polycystic ovaries.
If you are wondering if you might be suffering from polycystic ovary syndrome and could do with a little help and advice then we are here to support and to guide you.
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