Polycystic ovarian syndrome
At Double Bay Doctors we offer a comprehensive women's health service including diagnosis and management of Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) .
PCOS is a common hormonal disorder occurring in 10 -15 per cent of women of reproductive age.
Many women with PCOS suffer from symptoms which have a significant impact on their life. Delay in diagnosis and management can result in substantial physical, social and emotional consequences.
‘Polycystic’ literally translates as ‘many cysts’. This really refers to there being many partially formed follicles on the ovaries, which each contain an egg. These rarely grow to maturity or produce eggs that can be fertilised.
The exact cause of PCOS is unknown. Early diagnosis and treatment along with weight loss may reduce the risk of long-term complications such as type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
Signs and symptoms of PCOS
Signs and symptoms of PCOS often develop around the time of the first menstrual period during puberty. Sometimes PCOS develops later, for example, in response to substantial weight gain.
Signs and symptoms may include:
Irregular periods. Infrequent, irregular or prolonged menstrual cycles are the most common sign of PCOS. For example, you might have fewer than nine periods a year, more than 35 days between periods and abnormally heavy periods.
Excess androgen. Elevated levels of male hormone may result in physical signs, such as excess facial and body hair (hirsutism), and occasionally severe acne and male-pattern baldness.
Polycystic ovaries. Your ovaries might be enlarged and contain follicles that surround the eggs. As a result, the ovaries might fail to function regularly.
Infertility and PCOS
Many women with PCOS have difficulty conceiving, but with careful management and support, women with PCOS can have healthy pregnancies and children. In some cases as little as a 5 – 10 per cent weight loss can result in resumption of regular menstrual cycles and ovulation. For women who remain anovulatory, ovulation induction agents can be used.
Resources: Mayo clinic; Royal Women’s Hospital Victoria