Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS)


 

Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) is a hormone imbalance that is usually diagnosed clinically. However, there are some tests that can be done to help support the diagnosis. Unfortunately, there is no cure for PCOS but treatment is aimed at control of symptoms.

Signs and symptoms of PCOS include:

  • Irregular menstrual periods or no periods
  • Infertility
  • Increased hair growth in a male pattern
  • Oily skin and/or acne
  • Weight gain (especially around the middle)
  • Darkened skin along the neck, armpits, groin and/or inner thighs
  • Hair loss in a male pattern

Diagnosis of PCOS is largely based on clinical findings determined in a detailed history and physical exam. Other tests that may be ordered include blood test (hormone levels, insulin/blood sugar levels), and a pelvic ultrasound.

Treatment depends on symptoms and the desire for pregnancy. Many times a multi-factorial approach is necessary.

This may include:

  • Lifestyle changes: diet, exercise, weight loss
  • Medications:
    • Menstrual cycle regulation: birth control pills, progesterone, metformin
    • Infertility: Metformin, ovulation induction meds, ie. clomid
    • Hair growth, acne, oily skin: OCPs, metformin, spironolactone, vaniqua
    • Weight gain: metformin

Patients with PCOS have a high chance of developing diabetes and endometrial cancer so steps should be taken to help decrease secondary morbidities such as heart disease, hypertension and diabetes. If you think you may have PCOS, make an appointment with your doctor to further discuss this topic and how it relates to your health.



More information is available at the following sites:
www.4woman.gov/faq/polycystic-ovary-syndrome.cfm
women.webmd.com/tc/polycystic-ovary-syndrome-pcos-topic-overview
www.medicinenet.com/polycystic_ovary/article.htm
www.nichd.nih.gov/health/topics/Polycystic_Ovary_Syndrome.cfm

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