Polycystic ovarian syndrome

Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS)

Polycystic ovarian syndrome (Stein-Leventhal syndrome) involves enlarged ovaries, which contain many fluid-filled sacs (cysts), and a tendency to have high levels of male hormones (androgens).

  • Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) affects about 7 to 10% of women.
  • A common cause is the excess production of luteinizing hormone by the pituitary gland.
  • The excess luteinizing hormone increases the production of male hormones (androgens).
  • If the disorder is not treated, some of the male hormones may be converted to estrogens.
  • Not enough progesterone is produced to balance the estrogens’ effects.
  • If this situation continues for a long time, the lining of the uterus may become extremely thickened.
  • Also, the risk of the cancer of the lining of the uterus may be increased.

PCOS Symptoms

  • Symptoms typically develop during puberty.
  • In some women, menstrual periods do not start at puberty.
  • Thus, these women do not release an egg from the ovaries.
  • These women also develop symptoms related to high levels of male hormones – a process known as masculinization or virilization.
  • Symptoms include acne, deepened voice, reduction in breast size, increase in muscle size, and increase in body hair in male pattern such as on chest and on the face.
  • Many women with polycystic ovarian syndrome produce too much insulin or insulin they produce does not function properly.
  • Consequently, these women tend to gain weight or have a hard time losing weight.
  • Most women with the polycystic ovarian syndrome are obese.
  • Other women have irregular vaginal bleeding with no increase in weight or body hair.
  • Women with the polycystic ovarian syndrome also have an increased risk of heart disease, diabetes and high blood pressure.

PCOS Diagnosis

  • The diagnosis is based on the symptoms.
  • Blood tests to measure the levels of luteinizing hormone and male hormones are performed.
  • Ultrasound scan of the ovaries may be performed.
  • An ultrasound scan or computed tomography scan may be used to determine whether the male hormones are being produced by an ovarian tumor or by the adrenal gland.

PCOS Treatment

  • No ideal treatment is available.
  • The choice of the treatment depends on the type and severity of symptoms, the woman’s age and her plans regarding pregnancy.
  • Often a biopsy of the uterine lining is performed to make sure no cancer is present.
  • If insulin levels are high, lowering them may help.
  • Exercising at least 30 minutes a day may help.
  • Reducing the intake of carbohydrate-rich foods like bread, pasta, potatoes and sweets can help lower insulin levels.
  • In some women, weight loss lowers insulin levels enough that ovulation can begin.
  • Weight loss may help reduce the hair growth and the risk of thickening of the uterine lining.
  • Women who do not wish to become pregnant may take progestin by mouth or a combination oral contraceptive containing estrogen and progestin.
  • Either treatment may reduce the risk of cancer of the uterine lining due to high estrogen level and help lower the levels of male hormones.
  • However, oral contraceptives are not given to women who have reached menopause or who have other significant risk factors for heart disease or blood vessel disorder.
  • Women who wish to become pregnant may take clomiphene.
  • This drug stimulates ovulation.
  • If clomiphene is not effective, other hormones may be tried.
  • These include follicle stimulating hormone – to stimulate the ovaries, gonadotropin-releasing hormone agonist – to stimulate the release of follicle stimulating hormone and human chorionic gonadotrophin – to trigger ovulation.
  • Increased body hair may be bleached or removed by electrolysis, plucking, waxing, hair removing liquids or creams or laser.
  • No drug treatment for removing excess hair is ideal or completely effective.
  • Oral contraceptives may be effective, but they must be taken for several months before any effects are seen, which is often slight.
  • Spironolactone – a drug which blocks the production and action of male hormones can be used to remove unwanted body hairs. Side effects include urine production and low blood pressure.
  • Spironolactone may not be safe for developing fetus. So sexually active women taking the drug are advised to use birth control methods.
  • Cyproterone, a strong progestin that blocks the action of male hormones, reduces unwanted body hair in 50 to 75% of affected women.
  • It is used in many countries but it is not approved in the United States.
  • Gonadotropin-releasing hormone agonist and antagonist are being studied as the treatment for unwanted body hair.
  • Both types of drugs inhibit the production of sex hormones by the ovaries.
  • But both can cause bone loss and lead to osteoporosis.

Click here to go to Women’s health issues forums.

Click here to go to PCOS forums.

Click here to read more

By |2018-08-31T13:57:46+00:00November 23rd, 2017|Disease/pathological condition, Women's health|2 Comments

About the Author:

B. Pharm (K.L.E. society's S.V.V. Patil College of Pharmacy, Bengaluru) M. Pharm (Maharishi Arvind Institute of Pharmacy, Jaipur)

2 Comments

  1. Rakshit Agrawal January 24, 2018 at 8:33 am - Reply

    Great blog about PCOS provided me great information the facts and and treatment section was also very helpful thanks for such a great blog.

  2. jennifer February 5, 2018 at 12:17 am - Reply

    nice.
    keep up the good work.

Leave A Comment

WE NEED YOUR HELP IN CREATING AWARENESS ABOUT DISEASES AND MEDICINES

In today's fast paced life, we often come across minor health issues that we often neglect due to lack of time for paying a visit to a doctor, which usually takes away 2-3 hours of a person's time and are expensive too. Further more, such minor conditions may grow big at any time if neglected. Our aim in setting up this platform is that any person can search for any health condition or medicines and can get all the needed information within hardly 10-15 minutes, which saves a lot of time and money. After going through every information, if the person has any questions, he/she can go to our forums section and raise a topic. This will help him/her decide better whether he/she needs to pay an immediate visit to a doctor or can it wait for a day or two? Help us in bringing awareness about diseases and medicines by spreading the word to at least 5 of your friends and relatives.
Select your currency