I’ve had irregular periods for a long time, now my doctor says it’s PCOS. What is it?
What is PCOS?
Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome or PCOS is a common gynecological (endocrine) disorder affecting many women of childbearing age. In essence it is a hormonal problem. It works by suppressing egg maturity and causes excessive fluid build-up in the ovarian follicles. Despite the name, however, cysts are not always a present factor.
PCOS Can Result In:
- Irregular menstrual patterns – missed, heavy or prolonged periods
- Acne and excessive facial hair
- Baldness or hair patterning normally associated with males
- Weight gain leading to a risk of diabetes
- Abdominal pain
But why does PCOS affect my menstrual cycle?
Because the ovaries don’t make the necessary hormones for egg development, ovulation doesn’t occur. When ovulation doesn’t occur progesterone isn’t produced, which is the key hormonal trigger for a regular menstrual cycle. Hence your period may not arrive, or it may arrive early/late, it may also be heavier/lighter than usual. This disruption to the cycle will continue as long PCOS remains untreated.
Why do some women suffer from PCOS and not others?
While it’s still not know what causes PCOS to occur research does point to a the possibility that it may be hereditary.
Is there a cure for PCOS?
There is no known ‘cure’ for Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, however hormonal imbalances can be successfully controlled with drugs such as birth control pills for example. Surgery to remove ovarian cysts is also a possibility in extreme cases and can help improve ovarian function…and in some cases kick-start ovulation.