Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a common condition that affects the hormones of women and people assigned to females at birth (AFAB). It can cause irregular periods, excess hair growth, acne, infertility, and other health problems. In this blog post, we will explain what PCOS is, what causes it, how it is diagnosed and how it can be treated.
What is PCOS? PCOS is a hormonal imbalance that occurs when the ovaries produce too many androgens, which are male hormones. Androgens are normally present in small amounts in women and AFAB people, but when they are too high, they can interfere with the normal function of the reproductive system.
How to Treat PCOS with Home Remedies
The ovaries are the organs that produce and release eggs. Each month, one of the ovaries releases an egg, which travels to the uterus through the fallopian tubes. This process is called ovulation. If the egg is not fertilized by a sperm, it is shed along with the lining of the uterus during menstruation.
In PCOS, the ovaries may not ovulate regularly or at all. Instead, they may develop small fluid-filled sacs called follicles or cysts. These cysts are not harmful or painful, but they can prevent the eggs from maturing and being released. This can lead to irregular or missed periods, as well as difficulty getting pregnant.
PCOS can also affect other aspects of the body, such as the skin, hair, metabolism, and mood. The excess androgens can cause acne, especially on the face, chest, and back. They can also cause hirsutism, which is unwanted hair growth on the face, chest, abdomen, arms, and legs. PCOS can also increase the risk of obesity, insulin resistance, diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, heart disease, sleep apnea, endometrial cancer, and depression.
What causes PCOS?
The exact cause of PCOS is not known. However there are many other factors that may contribute to its development like:
Genetics: PCOS may run in families. If you have a biological parent or sibling with PCOS, you may have a higher chance of having it too.
Insulin resistance: Insulin is a hormone and it helps the human body to use glucose (sugar) for energy. If your body does not respond well to insulin, your blood sugar levels may rise. This can trigger your pancreas to produce more insulin. High levels of insulin can stimulate your ovaries to produce more androgens.
Inflammation: Inflammation is a natural response of your immune system to fight infections or injuries. But remember chronic inflammation can be harmful to your health. Some studies have shown that women and AFAB people with PCOS have higher levels of inflammation markers in their blood. Inflammation may also increase the production of androgens by the ovaries.
How is PCOS diagnosed?
There is no single test that can diagnose PCOS. Your lady doctor will ask you about your medical history, symptoms, menstrual cycle, and family history. They will also perform a physical exam to check for signs of excess hair growth, acne, obesity and ovarian cysts.
Your healthcare provider may also order some blood tests to measure your hormone levels and rule out other conditions that may cause similar symptoms. These tests may include:
Follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH): This hormone stimulates the growth of follicles in the ovaries. In PCOS, FSH levels may be normal or low.
Luteinizing hormone (LH): This hormone triggers ovulation. In PCOS, LH levels may be high.
Testosterone: This is the main male hormone that causes excess hair growth and acne in PCOS. Testosterone levels may be high or normal in PCOS.
DHEAS: This is another male hormone that is produced by the adrenal glands. DHEAS levels may be high or normal in PCOS.
Estrogen: This is the main female hormone that regulates the menstrual cycle and fertility. Estrogen levels may be normal or slightly high in PCOS.
S hormone binding globulin (SHBG): This is a protein that binds to testosterone and reduces its effects on the body. SHBG levels may be low in PCOS.
Androstenedione: This is a precursor of testosterone that is produced by the ovaries and adrenal glands. Androstenedione levels may be high in PCOS.
Prolactin: This is a hormone that stimulates milk production in the breasts. Prolactin levels may be normal or low in PCOS.
Thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH): This hormone regulates the function of the thyroid gland