With September being designated Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome Awareness Month, it gave us the idea to write and share an informative blog about what PCOS is, the signs and symptoms, and the findings of PCOS. At The OB/GYN Group of Austin, we hope to help raise awareness and foster an open discussion about this important topic. PCOS is a hormonal disorder common among women of reproductive age (affects approximately 1 in 10 women), that creates a variety of endocrine problems. With PCOS, the egg may not release as it should, causing the ovaries to fail to regularly release eggs. According to research, certain genes may be linked to PCOS. So, if you have a mother, sister, or aunt with PCOS then your risk of PCOS may be higher.
Signs and symptoms of PCOS vary from woman to woman. Some of the symptoms of PCOS include:
Infrequent, irregular or prolonged periods are the most common sign of PCOS. Women with PCOS may miss periods or have fewer periods than normal or their periods may come more often than once a month. Some women with PCOS stop having menstrual periods altogether. Irregular periods can lead to the inability to get pregnant. In fact, PCOS is one of the most common causes of infertility in women.
High levels of hormones may result in too much hair on the face, chin, or other parts of the body. This symptom can also occasionally result in acne on the face, chest and upper back or thinning hair or hair loss due to male-pattern baldness.
Irregular periods can lead to the development of small cysts in the ovaries. Your ovaries may contain follicles that surround the eggs, which can potentially cause the ovaries to fail to function regularly.
About half of women who have PCOS will experience weight gain or obesity. With PCOS, you tend to gain weight, especially around the waist, as well as have a hard time losing it.
The exact cause of PCOS is unknown. Most experts think several of these factors might play a role:
Insulin is the hormone that controls how the food you eat is transformed into energy for your body. Insulin resistance can cause your blood sugar levels to rise, resulting in your body producing more insulin. This excess insulin may increase your body’s androgen production, causing difficulty with ovulation and extra hair growth. Over time, insulin resistance can lead to type 2 diabetes.
Women with PCOS have more androgens than normal. Higher levels of androgen can prevent the ovaries from releasing an egg during each menstrual cycle, and can also result in an increase in bodily hair as well as acne.
If you’ve experienced multiple of these symptoms, we recommend scheduling an appointment with your OB/GYN to get a blood test. Once you get your results, the doctor may also suggest a vaginal ultrasound to check for cysts, although not all women who have PCOS develop ovarian cysts. We hope this blog was helpful and informative, and that we were able to raise awareness about Polycystic Ovary Syndrome. If you are in need of a local Austin OB/GYN, we’d love for you to contact us for a preliminary appointment at The OB/GYN Group of Austin.