POLYCYSTIC OVARIAN SYNDROME (PCOS)
Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) is an endocrine disorder. PCOS symptoms may vary from person to person. Polycystic ovarian syndrome treatment usually includes more than one method and has complex approach. Below we are going to discuss this condition, its nature and treatment options in detail.
Polycystic ovarian syndrome is a condition in which a the levels of a woman’s sex hormones estrogen and progesterone are out of balance. This leads to the growth of ovarian cysts and cause problems with a woman’s menstrual cycle, fertility, cardiac function and appearance.
CAUSES OF POLYCYSTIC OVARIAN SYNDROME (PCOS)
While the exact cause of PCOS is unknown, there have been other symptoms doctors think could be the cause of PCOS, they include:
- Hormonal imbalance and genetics (especially if a mother or sister’s had it).
- Overproduction of the hormone androgen (male sex hormone women’s bodies also produce).
- Excess insulin may cause high androgen levels.
The symptoms of PCOS usually start soon after a woman begins menstruating; the symptoms differ from person to person. PCOS certain male characteristics to occur, such as:
- Excess hair on the face, chest, stomach, thumbs or toes
- Decrease in breast size
- Deeper voice
- Thin hair
Other symptoms include:
- Weight gain
- Pelvic pain
- Anxiety or depression
POLYCYSTIC OVARIAN SYNDROME TREATMENT OPTIONS
REGULATING THE MENSTRUAL CYCLE
The most common drug of use in regulating menstrual cycles are birth control pills, the pills contain both estrogen and progestin and they decrease the production of androgen. Skin patch or vaginal ring is another means in regulating menstrual cycles and can be used as an alternative to birth control pills, they prevent pregnancies. Progesterone and metformin also help in the regulating of menstrual cycles, the progesterone helps to prevent endometrial cancer and the metformin is type 2 diabetes medications, which lowers the insulin levels.
This involves the use of metformin which is a medicine used in the treatment of type 2 diabetes. Though not approved by the U.S Food and Drug Administration, it is known to help with PCOS symptoms. Metformin affects the way insulin controls blood glucose and testosterone production. It does not cause a person to be diabetic.
Lack of ovulation may be the reason for fertility problems in women with PCOS. Although there are medications available for fertility problems due to PCOS, other causes should be ruled out. These medications include:
- Clomiphene (Clomid and Serophene)
- Metformin taken with Clomiphene
- In Vitro Fertilization (IVF)
The surgery carried out is known as ovarian drilling which can increase the chances of ovulation. This procedure is carried out mainly when a woman does not respond to fertility medication. A small incision is made below the navel in which a small tool is inserted into the abdomen; the ovary is punctured with a small needle carrying an electric current. This procedure lowers the male hormone levels but does not help with scalp hair loss or increased hair growth in other parts of the body.
MEDICINE FOR INCREASED HAIR GROWTH OR EXTRA MALE HORMONES
There is a variety of medication (called anti-androgens) that can be used for this cause, they include; Aldactone which was first used in the treatment of high blood pressure, Finasteride, a medicine taken for hair loss in men. Other options include Vaniqa cream to reduce facial hair, laser hair removal or electrolysis and hormonal treatment to prevent new hair from growing.
DIAGNOSING POLYCYSTIC OVARIAN SYNDROME (PCOS)
The following steps can be carried out in determining if something other than PCOS is the cause of the symptoms as there is no definite test for PCOS.
- Medical history: Questions on menstrual periods, weight changes are asked by the doctor.
- Physical exam: Tests like blood pressure, body mass index and waist size are carried out; areas of extreme hair growth are also checked out.
- Pelvic exam: The doctor checks to see if the ovaries are larger than is normal or swollen due to the increased number of small cysts.
- Blood tests: This is carried out to check the levels of androgen and glucose in the blood.
- Vaginal ultrasound (sonogram): This is carried out to examine the pelvic area and also to examine the ovaries for cysts. The lining of the womb is also examined as the lining may become thicker if the periods are irregular.