Polycystic ovary syndrome is a condition caused by hormones, affecting 1 in 5 women globally. The struggle to become pregnant with a condition like polycystic ovary syndrome is real and is typically accompanied by unfavourable characteristics like ovarian cysts, high levels of male hormones called the testosterone and menstrual cycle irregularity.
A woman’s body produces enough hormones to ovulate eggs in the ovaries which happens once in 28 days, and if it isn’t fertilized during that span, then the lining of the uterus is shed as menstruation blood from a small opening called the cervix and is disposed of from the body through the vagina. But if the concentration of these hormones like estrogen is inadequate then it may give rise to polycystic ovaries syndrome.
Luteinizing Hormone (LH) and Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH) cause the ovulation process and if the ratio of LH hormone rises with respect to FSH hormone, a woman may have chances to Polycystic ovaries syndrome (PCOS). On the other hand, multiple egg release may form many cysts, which are visible under a sonography image like a pearl necklace, hence the name polycystic meaning many cysts. Increase in Androgen with respect to Estrogen could also trigger the same.
Polycystic ovaries syndrome symptoms
Symptoms that PCOS patients exhibit are:
• Menstrual cycle irregularity
• Androgen hormone side effects like excess oily skin, acne, facial hair etc.
• Weight gain
• The growth of Polycystic Ovaries
Menstrual cycle irregularity: Some woman experience signs of abnormal periods having as few as 9 periods a year and the menstrual cycle extending up to 35 days.
Androgen hormone side effects: Higher levels of the male hormone could show side effects such as excess body and facial hair, excessive hair loss, excess oily skin and acne issues.
Weight gain: PCOS leads to insulin resistance which makes it tough for the body to utilize insulin hormone which can cause high blood sugar levels.
Fertility problems: The main reason behind infertility in women is ovulation complications. Ovulation will not take place if there is an increase in testosterone levels in the blood or because follicles aren’t developed. The lining of the uterus may not be fully fledged even if the ovulation process occurs because of the imbalance in the hormonal level of the body, thereby making it difficult for a woman to get pregnant.
The growth of polycystic ovaries: Ovaries may fail to function properly due to the follicles surrounding the eggs in the enlarged ovaries.
Polycystic ovary syndrome treatment
One of the important aspects of medication is the lifestyle changes and usually, a doctor recommends a low-calorie diet with daily exercise to lose weight. For the medications of PCOS to be effective, losing weight is the best option which will help with fertility.
The menstrual cycle can be regulated with 2 options that doctors may recommend:
1. Administering birth control pills: Intake of birth control pills regulate Estrogen that in turn regulates periods. This can be beneficial for stimulating hormones and avoiding the risk of endometrial cancer, irregular bleeding, hair growth in the body and severe acne.
2. Progestin: Taking mini-pills, shots or implants also regulates menstruation cycle and makes the mucus in the cervix thick to act as a barrier to the sperm entering the body.
Medications that aid in ovulation on doctor’s recommendation are:
1. Clomiphene: This stimulates ovulation by playing a part as an anti-estrogen during the first half of menstruation.
2. Letrozole: Also goes by the name Femara, is a treatment that is usually given to breast cancer patients after surgery to stimulate ovaries.
3. Gonadotropins: It is believed that more than 90% of the woman can ovulate after administering this medication as an injection.
4. Metformin: This is supposedly a diabetes type 2 drug, which has a quick action when you take it in as an oral medication, it also regulates the use of insulin in the body, thereby improving blood sugar levels in the body and also helps in losing weight. Because of its anti-androgen properties, it reduces the reaction to male hormones and reduces testosterone hormone level in women.
Hair growth is a huge setback to women, and these symptoms can take its toll on their self-confidence. Certain of these medications may be recommended by your doctor for reducing hair growth.
1. Birth control pills: Pills like these work as an Anti-androgen to reduce hair growth
2. Eflornithine cream: Hair in women will not fall out but become finer and lighter by using this cream. It typically works on the unwanted hair on the face and under the chin
3. Electrolysis: It’s a method where a fine probe is inserted into each hair follicle using heat or chemical energy and finally removed with tweezers.
If you are in need for treatment then do not hesitate with consulting doctors at Kiran Infertility Centre (KIC), Bangalore who provide the best of technology and treatment for PCOS.
Polycystic ovary syndrome causes
It is believed that high levels of male hormones can disrupt the ovulation process.
Several causes like genes, Insulin resistance and inflammation can come into being because of excess androgen hormone in the body of the women.
Genes: Doctors believe that genes are responsible for the PCOS condition and recent studies conclude that not one but many genes that run in the family are accountable for it.
Insulin resistance: Hormones such as insulin help the body to convert sugar of the food into energy. Insulin resistance is caused by obesity which increases the risk of type 2 diabetes. This type of diabetes occurs when cells don’t use insulin properly and so the pancreas makes more insulin in recompense and end up activating ovaries to create excess male hormones.
Inflammation: High androgen levels can cause inflammation in a woman’s body. On the other hand weight gain can also increase the chances of inflammation which also causes PCOS in the woman.
Polycystic ovaries syndrome diet
Foods that you should consume while on a PCOS
• Foods that contain Fiber: Vegetables, Whole grains, nuts, seeds and fruits regulate blood sugar levels and hence stimulate insulin levels in the body
• Anti-inflammatory foods: PCOS is also caused by inflammation, but there are certain foods that have anti-inflammatory properties like fatty fish, almonds, walnuts, whole grains, olive oil and tomatoes that can be consumed for reducing the imbalance in the hormones.
• Foods rich in Omega-3 fatty acids: Foods like fish, olive oil, avocado, nuts and seeds regulate insulin the body
• Lean protein: Proteins help in keeping you feeling fuller for a longer time for example beef, fish, chicken, eggs etc.
• Low Glycemic foods: Low glycemic foods include vegetable, whole grains and fruits which mean they have a less percentage of carbohydrates in them.
Processed meat, milk, caffeine, alcohol, soy and fat, simple and refined carbohydrates are to be avoided as a PCOS patient.
Polycystic ovary syndrome test
Doctors diagnose PCOS on symptoms like the blood test, ultrasound and a physical examination as there are no single tests for its diagnosis.
- Physical examination: In this case, a pelvic examination is done to check the ovaries in addition to weight gain check, test to detect the presence of excess levels of androgens which cause facial hair and acne on the skin.
- Blood test and Imaging test: Pelvic ultrasound is done to get overall information about the ovaries, while blood tests are done to measure the hormonal levels in the blood.