PCOS (polycystic ovary syndrome) is a condition that affects women and their hormone levels, causing them to produce more male hormones than normal. This means that women with the condition often don’t have menstrual periods and can find it hard to get pregnant.
Although PCOS is not curable, effective treatment is available from UK Meds to decrease or eliminate symptoms.
What is PCOS?
Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a common condition that affects a woman’s reproductive system. The condition causes the ovaries to enlarge and develop a number of fluid-filled sacs; despite the name of the condition, these sacs are follicles, not cysts.
The follicles are not harmful, but they do often mean that your ovaries cannot release an egg, which prevents ovulation. This means that women who have PCOS (which is thought to be about 20% of women) often have irregular periods, problems with fertility and difficulty getting pregnant.
PCOS also causes high levels of androgens (male sex hormones) in the body. These hormones are responsible for your sebaceous glands and typically “masculine” traits, so excess androgens can lead to oily skin, acne or excessive hair growth (particularly on the face, back, chest and buttocks).
What causes PCOS?
Despite how common the condition is, the exact cause is not known. Although it’s not fully understood, polycystic ovary syndrome is thought to run in families and it carries a strong link to insulin.
Many PCOS sufferers are insulin-resistant, which their bodies try to compensate for by producing more insulin. This leads to high levels of insulin, which can increase the production and activity of hormones like testosterone.
Another factor that can increase the amount of insulin your body produces is being overweight or obese. This link also works the other way around though, which is why many women with PCOS notice weight gain.
How can I treat PCOS?
PCOS is not curable but the symptoms are treatable in a number of different ways (with each symptom comes a different treatment option).
Lifestyle changes are usually the first port of call. Eating healthily and exercising regularly can help to revert any weight gain and improve your body’s insulin levels.
There are also a number of medications used in women with PCOS, for the various symptoms that could show (not all women with PCOS will get all of the symptoms). If you’re noticing irregular periods (or no periods at all) then the contraceptive pill could help to encourage these. Contraceptive pills such as Dianette and Clairette are usually the recommended choice, as they are anti-androgen so they also treat acne and excessive hair growth (hirsutism).
Fertility problems are a worry to many women diagnosed with PCOS but thankfully, most women with PCOS are able to get pregnant with treatment. Clomifene is a medication that encourages monthly ovulation and can help women fall pregnant.
Metformin is another medication used to treat PCOS, although it is used “off-label”. This means that the medication has a product license to treat type 2 diabetes, but it is prescribed for PCOS because of its effectiveness. As well as encouraging regular periods, Metformin can also stimulate ovulation and lower the risk of miscarriage.
For symptoms such as acne and hirsutism, a number of topical treatment options are available (both over-the-counter and prescription), as well as tablet options.
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