Signs of PCOS
PCOS, polycystic ovary syndrome, is one of the main reasons many women struggle to get pregnant. In fact, according to the CDC, Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, about 6 to 12% of women are affected by this condition.
Maybe you’re wondering if you might have PCOS. You’ve perhaps noticed some symptoms or maybe you’ve been having a rough time conceiving. First up, it’s always important to discuss this with your doctor and obtain further testing to determine what is truly going on.
But what are some of the top signs of PCOS? What are some indications that you should get checked out by your family doctor? And what happens after a PCOS diagnosis?
In this article, we’ll dive into what exactly PCOS is, the most common signs of PCOS and the treatment involved.
What is PCOS?
Technically, PCOS is a hormonal issue. With this condition, a woman’s ovaries struggle to produce or properly balance out the proper hormones, including male androgens, estrogen and progesterone.
While experts aren’t entirely sure why PCOS happens, they have speculated that inflammation, genes and insulin resistance all might play a part. In fact, PCOS is known to run in families.
Additionally, a large majority of women with PCOS also have insulin resistance. Being overweight with excess inflammation may also be a significant contributing factor.
Tops Signs of PCOS
Sometimes, PCOS symptoms in females are obvious. Other times, not as much. However, if you’ve had any two of the following three symptoms, your doctor may suggest more specific PCOS testing to identify the cause.
1. Ovarian Cysts
Ovarian cysts are small fluid-filled sacs that develop on or in the ovaries. Surprisingly though, many cysts cause next-to-no symptoms. Many times, they go away all on their own, with no one the wiser.
Yet, if ovarian cysts become too enlarged, they may cause bloating, heaviness in the abdomen and sharp or dull pain in the lower abdomen. If you’ve had multiple ovarian cysts, your doctor may begin to suspect PCOS as a cause.
2. Irregular or Skipped Periods
Because PCOS interferes with your natural hormone balance, this may lead to a skipped or irregular periods. Your body may have difficulty maintaining a regular menstrual cycle, which can lead to a ton of frustration and unexpected bleed-throughs.
If your period has become unpredictable or some months, disappeared altogether, this is a sign that you should book an appointment with your doctor. PCOS isn’t the only reason for abnormal menstrual cycles.
Thus, it’s a good idea to get this checked early on so that you can address the problem before it gets worse.
3. Higher Levels of Male Hormones
Women with PCOS have higher levels of male hormones. This means that you might notice hair growth on your face or chest, acne and thinning hair on your head.
While many of these signs of PCOS and symptoms may seem small, if they coincide with the above two symptoms, it might be PCOS.
When two of the three symptoms listed above are present, your doctor may want to go forward with other tests for PCOS. This may involve a pelvic exam, blood tests and ultrasounds.
From there, you and your doctor will discuss an appropriate treatment method. So, what does treatment typically involve?
1. Lifestyle Modifications
This is usually the starting point for any woman who has been diagnosed with PCOS, depending on your symptoms and their severity.
Your doctor may recommend losing weight to help manage this condition, which may further include dietary, exercise and other lifestyle changes.
In conjunction with lifestyle modifications or if lifestyle changes fail to work, your doctor may further prescribe certain medications to help manage your condition.
For instance, birth control can help with hormonal imbalances, regulating ovulation, reducing facial hair growth and preventing cancer.
Other medications you might be recommended include:
● Metformin — This can help improve insulin levels, which tends to be problematic in those with PCOS.
● Clomiphene — This is a fertility drug that can help women who are trying to get pregnant with PCOS.
● Hair removal medications or creams — These can help treat hair growth in unwanted places.
Surgery may be considered for fertility treatments for women with PCOS. However, this is often the last resort and usually not the first consideration for treatment.
4. Coping Techniques
While a PCOS diagnosis can make getting pregnant difficult, as well as complicate other aspects of life, it’s important to take care of yourself while managing this condition.
Seek out support if you need it, such as a therapist or a support group where you can talk to other women with PCOS.
Ensure you also take care of yourself through proper self-care, such as warm baths, relaxation techniques, meditation, adequate exercise, sufficient sun and more.
Living With PCOS
PCOS is a manageable and treatable condition. While it can greatly interfere with your life, proper treatment and lifestyle changes can help substantially improve your quality of life, allowing you to live your life to the fullest.
A PCOS diagnosis is also not the end of the road if you want to get pregnant. Many women with PCOS have gone onto have full families and full lives, despite their diagnosis.