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PCOS in a Nutshell

Updated on July 28, 2017
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Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), also known as Stein­Leventhal Syndrome is an endocrine disorder with no known cure and is the leading cause of female infertility. It also has been called the ‘Silent Killer’ as it requires multiple diagnoses to confirm its presence. Symptoms can vary from woman to woman. The syndrome’s namesake comes from the multiple ovarian follicles which look like cysts, which can be viewed from a gynecological sonography of women with the condition. The root cause of the syndrome is usually pointed to elevated amounts of testosterone and androgens, which are male hormones that are also produced in women’s body.

Symptoms and Treatments

Symptoms of this syndrome are the following; ­cystic acne, male pattern hair loss, hirsutism (excessive hair growth), insulin resistance (precursor to diabetes), darkened skin patches, depression, irregular menstrual cycles, and infertility. Obesity is both a symptom and a contributory factor and is associated with the worsening of other symptoms. A few treatment methods can be administered. Birth control pills may be prescribed as a means to boost female hormones. Weight loss program for those with obesity can help restore regular menstrual cycles, improve pregnancy rate and ovulation. The levels of circulating testosterone in the body can be reduced by taking androgen­blocking pills. If treated correctly, women with PCOS are able to conceive at rates similar to those without the syndrome.

Complications

However, even with the appropriate treatments, women with PCOS may face the risks of pregnancy complications once they have successfully conceived. Women with PCOS are 70 percent more likely to miscarry. Other complications include high ­blood pressure, preterm delivery, and gestational diabetes. Furthermore, infants born to mothers with PCOS have an increased risk of jaundice and respiratory complications. In the case of multiple ­birth infants, the infants may face a higher risk of spending time in a neonatal intensive care unit or dying before, during, or shortly after birth.

The Importance of a Healthy Lifestyle

Another note worth remembering is that no woman can prevent PCOS from happening. Even so, making lifestyle changes to accommodate a healthier lifestyle is the best way to bring the PCOS symptoms under control. The combination of well-balanced diet and regular exercises goes a long way in ensuring a better response from treatments and higher chances of conceiving. Finally, while pregnancy complications rates for women with PCOS are higher, they shouldn’t be deterred from conceiving as the complications are still rare from a bigger picture.

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