Before you read this I want to say that this is information I have read on PCOS from when I was diagnosed it is by no means a comprehensive explanation of PCOS and some information may not be as accurate as information from your own GP/Doctor. This is my account of the syndrome and if you think you may have the syndrome then please consult your GP/Doctor.
What is Polycystic Ovary Syndrome ?
PCOS is a hormonal condition that affects 5-10% of women of child bearing age. It is not to be confused with have polycystic ovaries (PCO) which around 20% of women have, to have the syndrome you need to have the PCO plus one or more other symptoms.
A polycystic ovary contains lots of little cysts, usually twelve or more but rarely bigger than 8mm.Below shows a picture of a normal ovary and a polycystic ovary.
Another feature of PCOS is the imbalance of hormones. The main hormones made in the ovaries are oestrogen and progestogen, they also make small amounts of androgens such a testosterone. Often in those with PCOS larger amounts of androgens are produced. When this happens eggs are not developed properly which leads to the cysts on the ovaries.
Symptoms of PCOS
- Irregular periods or complete lack of periods
- Irregular ovulation or no ovulation at all
- Difficulties becoming pregnant or infertility
- Oily skin
- Weight problems including obesity, rapid weight gain after no change in diet and difficulty losing weight
- Thinning hair/hair loss
- Unwanted facial or body hair
- Insulin Resistance
- Mood swings
Long term effects of having PCOS
The long term effects of having PCOS are an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes and having heart problems. Those with lack of periods also have an increased risk of cervical cancer.
How to combat the long term effects?
Those who are overweight and have PCOS the best solution is to lose weight and get to a into the healthy BMI range. Being aware of the condition helps as you are able to seek advice from your GP/Doctor and begin to combat the negative elements of the syndrome.
I was told by my GP that to get my chances of getting cervical cancer to the same percentage of women without PCOS I need to have three periods a year. I have been prescribed Provera which I have to take one a day for seven days and this will induce a period.
The best advice to see your GP/Doctor for information on what you can do to ensure you are as healthy as can be.
This is often done by doing a fasting blood test and also a ultrasound scan of the ovaries. My GP likes me to have a blood test every twelve months to ensure things are as well as they can be.
How it affects me
PCOS affects me in the following ways:
- Irregular/absent periods
- Difficulty losing weight
- Mood swings
- Small amount of facial hair on one side of my chin