Almost five to ten percent of all women in this world are afflicted with Stein-Leventhal syndrome also known as Polycystic Ovary Syndrome or PCOS. One of the major reasons for infertility in women, the symptoms of this condition begins during adolescence.
Irregular menses are one of the early signs of PCOS or Polycystic Ovary Syndrome. In some women the signs of polycystic ovaries do not begin in adolescence but much later after they reach adulthood. Polycystic Ovary Syndrome occurs when a woman’s hormones goes haywire. During adolescence a young girl with polycystic ovaries may experience irregularities in her menstrual cycle. Once a girl with PCOS reaches adulthood she may experience difficulties in getting pregnant. Women should not choose to simply ignore Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, as it can lead to more serious long term health problems like heart diseases and diabetes.
The different bodily processes or functions are controlled by chemical messengers’ called hormones. Changes in any one hormone of the body can trigger off a chain reaction among the other hormones in the body. While androgens the male sex hormone is produced in very small amounts by the ovaries, in women who have PCOS more androgens are produced. This in turn results in acne eruption, development of excess body hair and in certain cases the woman may even stop ovulating.
Women with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome may also develop insulin resistance. This in turn leads to increase in sugar levels in the body and can ultimately lead to diabetes. Genetics is an important factor which determines whether a woman is likely to suffer from polycystic ovaries or not. The likelihood of a woman to suffer from polycystic ovaries is increased by almost fifty percent if her mother has suffered from the same problem.
Besides genetics, women with high levels of male hormone androgen are also likely to suffer from polycystic ovaries. These women exhibit certain outwardly signs like acne problem, male pattern balding and in severe cases may stop having periods. In certain women the hormones which are responsible for ovulation or release of an egg from the ovaries does not function properly. This in turn can lead to the formation of cysts on the ovaries and ultimately lead to polycystic ovaries.
A complication which most women with polycystic ovaries develop is insulin resistance which leads to high levels of sugar in the blood. If polycystic ovary syndrome is not treated early it can even lead to diabetes. The other factors which determine whether a woman is likely to suffer from PCOS are fetal exposure to male hormones and low levels of chronic body inflammation. One of the first ways to detect whether a woman is suffering from the condition called polycystic ovaries is to determine whether she has any menstrual irregularities. Menstrual irregularities in most cases are indicative of polycystic ovary syndrome. Women with PCOS suffer from extreme menstrual problems.
These include primary amenorrhea or delay in the onset of normal periods, oligomenorrhea or less number of periods in a year and lastly secondary amenorrhea or the complete absence of periods for three successive months. If a woman suffers from any of these menstrual irregularities, she should consult a gynecologist immediately.
Women who are suffering from polycystic ovaries suffer from these menstrual irregularities along with other problems because the cysts which are present in the ovaries create hormonal imbalances. Besides menstrual irregularities some of the other signs of polycystic ovary syndrome include oily hair, sudden weight gain or obesity, dandruff, the hair becoming visibly thinner, dandruff, high cholesterol levels, skin discolorations, elevated blood pressure and elevated insulin levels and developing insulin resistance. Infertility is another problem associated with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome.
Some women also suffer from heavy vaginal bleeding. It has also been noticed that women with polycystic ovary syndrome, suffer from severe mood swings or depression. The symptoms mentioned above are only the early signs of polycystic ovary syndrome. As this condition worsens certain secondary symptoms start appearing. These include repeated miscarriages, male pattern balding, weight gain in the upper part of the body and sleep apnea.
Women with polycystic ovary syndrome are more likely to suffer from uterine cancer. Some serious complications which develop in women with polycystic ovary syndrome besides insulin resistance and high blood pressure are low HDL cholesterol levels, high triglyceride levels. These women may also suffer from heart and blood circulatory problems which includes an increase in the incidence of suffering from a heart attack and atherosclerosis or hardening of the arteries.
The chances of a woman to have polycystic ovaries are increased significantly if she has a family history of diabetes or is taking medication for seizures like valproate Doctors normally adopt the elimination technique to determine whether a woman is suffering polycystic ovary syndrome. While the symptoms of polycystic ovary syndrome are very similar to hypothyroidism a simple blood test can determine whether a woman is suffering PCOS or not.
The other methods which are employed to detect polycystic ovary syndrome include ultrasound imaging tests, CT scans and Magnetic Resonance Imaging or MRI scans. While there is no known cure for PCOS, certain small changes in ones lifestyle can control this problem and prevent it from spiraling out of control. PCOS which are not controlled in the initial stages can lead to major health problems including uterine cancer, heart diseases, diabetes and miscarriages.
People who are overweight should exercise regularly to control the hormonal imbalance and regularize their erratic menstrual cycles. A diet that is rich in fibers and zinc should also be consumed. Meat and meat products and processed foods should be avoided as much as possible. If a woman with PCOS condition is also suffering from high insulin levels, the doctor may prescribe certain medications which help to bring down the rising insulin levels.
Women who smoke should consider quitting smoking completely as smoking not increases the chances of suffering from heart diseases; it can also increase the amounts of the male hormone androgens present inside a woman’s system. As part of hormone therapy and to regularize the menstrual cycle, some women are put on birth control pills by their doctors. Spironolactone a medicine which helps to reduce the levels of the male hormone androgen in a woman is often prescribed.