What is polycystic ovary syndrome?
Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a hormonal disease that affects 5-10% of women (roughly one in ten), making it the most common hormonal disease affecting women of childbearing age. The disease is thought to be due to a hormonal imbalance in the ovaries and/or brain of two hormones (FSH and LH), which are responsible for the menstrual cycle. This leads to an increase in testosterone in the blood.
The nomenclature spok refers to the accumulation of what were once thought to be small cysts around the ovaries. In reality, these are follicles that fail to grow during the final stage of the follicular phase and accumulate. This condition disrupts egg production, making it a major cause offemale infertility.
What are the symptoms of polycystic ovaries?
The symptoms of this disease are very wide-ranging and generally occur at puberty, but can also appear later. They can be very mild, but scan be disabling.
Symptoms include depression and sleep apnea. But also an increase in the size of the ovaries, ovulation disorders (irregular cycles, amenorrhea) which lead to infertility in almost half the women affected by the disease, as well as an increased risk of miscarriage and premature delivery. The disease often induces hyperpilosityacne and hair loss due to the overproduction of testosterone. It can also increase the risk of metabolic syndrome, insulin resistance and diabetes, as well as cardiovascular disease. PCOS also increases the risk of developing female cancers (endometrial, breast and ovarian).
Diagnosis is made by a gynecologist, endocrinologist or physician. To establish whether a woman suffers from PCOS, a family history is first taken, as for the moment lheredity is the only suspected factor. This is followed by an analysis of menstrual cycles, a clinical examination, an ultrasound scan of the ovaries and hormone levels.
How is this disease treated?
At present, there is no cure for the disease. However, some symptomatic treatments up to the menopause are possible, and generally help to prevent complications, notably by adopting a healthier lifestyle.
Sometimes, weight loss can reduce testosterone levels in the body, somewhat regulate the appearance of irregular periods and have a possible positive effect on fertility. Medication and psychological support can also be considered. For example, for hyperpilosity, an oestroprogestogenic pill is often prescribed first, followed by anti-androgens if this is not enough. Foracneand hyperpilosity, cyproterone acetate is often prescribed.
If you suffer, or think you might suffer, from PCOS, we advise you to consult your GP or specialist doctors, who will be able to prescribe a treatment to reduce the symptoms of the disease. In any case, we'll be happy to support you at periods with period pants Elia!