Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a hormonal disorder in which the ovaries produce an abnormal amount of small cysts and abnormal androgen (male hormone) levels. A cyst can develop when the body doesn’t produce enough hormones for ovulation. PCOS is very common and can be hereditary.
Symptoms of PCOS are not one and the same. Many women may experience different symptoms including:
- Irregular or missed periods
- Enlarged ovaries
- Multiple cysts
- Weight gain, especially in the abdomen
- Evidence of excessive androgens as manifested by facial hair and acne.
- Difficulty losing weight.
PCOS is diagnosed clinically. There is no one test to diagnose PCOS. This is diagnosed by the patient’s history, physical exam, pelvic exam, ultrasound, and blood tests for androgen levels glucose and cholesterol. Testing is always necessary to rule out other possible reasons for similar presented symptoms.
After a diagnosis is completed, your physician will develop a plan of treatment that may include lifestyle changes, such as diet and physical activity. You may be prescribed medication to help control ovulation or diabetes. An example is taking birth control to control hormone level production and regulate menstrual cycles. There is always a need for a team approach for the care of individuals with PCOS. Your team consisting of your primary care provider, gynecologist, other physicians such as an endocrinologist will work together to ensure the best care tailored to you.
If left untreated, serious complications can develop such as:
- Type 2 diabetes
- High blood pressure
- Heart and blood vessel complications
Have you experienced similar prolonged symptoms and suspect an underlying issue may be present? Speak with your gynecologist as soon as possible to begin discussing lifestyle changes. Don’t have a go-to gynecologist for your needs? Ask your primary care provider for a referral or find one here today with UofL Health.