Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS)

Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a hormonal disorder common among women of reproductive age. Women with PCOS may have infrequent or prolonged menstrual periods or excess male hormone (androgen) levels. The ovaries may develop numerous small collections of fluid (follicles) and fail to regularly release eggs.

Many women have PCOS but don’t know it. In one study, up to 70 per cent of women with PCOS hadn’t been diagnosed (2 Trusted Source)

Hormonal Imbalance causes PCOS by interfering with the hormone signals to the ovaries thus leading to the development of multiple immature egg sacs. This results in irregular ovulation, failure of ovulation, or a reduction in the quality of eggs that the woman releases from her ovaries. Other symptoms include an increased tendency to develop acne, an increased amount of body hair, an increased tendency to put on weight and difficulty in losing weight. 

PCOS affects a woman’s ovaries, the reproductive organs that produce estrogen and progesterone — hormones that regulate the menstrual cycle. The ovaries also produce a small number of male hormones called androgens.

The ovaries release eggs to be fertilized by a man’s sperm. The release of an egg each month is called ovulation.

Follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) and luteinizing hormone (LH) control ovulation. FSH stimulates the ovary to produce a follicle — a sac that contains an egg — and then LH triggers the ovary to release a mature egg.

What are the common symptoms of PCOS?

Some women start seeing symptoms around the time of their first period. Others only discover they have PCOS after they’ve gained a lot of weight or they’ve had trouble getting pregnant.

  • Irregular periods or no periods at all. A lack of ovulation prevents the uterine lining from shedding every month. Some women with PCOS get fewer than eight periods a year
  • Difficulty getting pregnant (because of irregular ovulation or failure to ovulate)
  • Excessive hair growth (hirsutism) – usually on the face, chest, back or buttocks
  • Weight gain
  • Thinning hair and hair loss from the head 
  • Oily skin or acne
  • Darkening of the skin. Dark patches of skin can form in body creases like those on the neck, in the groin, and under the breasts.

What Causes PCOS?

High levels of androgens

Androgens or male hormones such as testosterone can cause hormonal imbalances that affect the normal functioning of the ovaries as well as cause severe acne, male pattern hair growth (on the face and chest), and hair fall that occurs in women with PCOS.

Over-activity of the immune system due to stress, bad lifestyle habits, and environmental toxins can cause polycystic ovarian syndrome.

Treatment of PCOS involves weight loss, regular exercise, stress management, and medications to induce ovulation, insulin medication like metformin, or oral contraceptive pills. In some cases, surgery may be recommended to remove the cysts.

Diagnosis and treatment 

At Nutrihealth, this process may start with a discussion of your medical history, including your menstrual periods and weight changes. 

We will then conduct a blood test in our lab to check for abnormal levels of the reproductive hormones as well as ultrasound services to diagnose abnormal follicles and other problems with the ovaries and uterus. 

Treatment is then based on the results and geared towards balancing the hormones, which in turn clears the cysts and prevents reoccurrence, regulates periods, and makes fertility possible. 

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