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What is Polycystic Ovary Syndrome ?

It is a condition of hormonal disorder experienced by women of child bearing age group. It is a condition wherein the ovary has many, little cysts that develop along the outer edge of ovary, and also has an enlarged appearance.

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Women with polycystic ovary syndrome experience extended or infrequent menstrual periods, obesity, excess hair growth and acne. For a women who has passed the adolescent age, gaining excess weight and the condition of not bearing a child may be the signs of a women affected by the polycystic ovary syndrome.

The true cause of polycystic ovary syndrome is not known. An early detection and prompt care can avoid the long-term complications of severe diabetes and heart ailments.

Symptoms of Polycystic ovary syndrome

The problem of polycystic ovary syndrome begins once the menstrual period starts. In some cases, it may crop up during the reproductive age span after the gain of excess weight.

The symptoms differ from women to women depending on its type and severity. The common minimum (at least two) symptoms of polycystic ovary syndrome are:

  • Abnormality in periods: The menstrual periods become longer than 35 days or lesser than eight menstrual cycles in a year and failure to menstruate for four months or longer.
  • Excess androgen: Excess hair growth in face and body, male type baldness, and adult acne indicate the presence of elevated levels of male hormones. These physical signs of excess androgen differ with regional ethnic background.
  • Polycystic ovaries: The condition of enlarged ovary with many tiny cysts can be detected by ultrasound method. Along with this test, other signs of the condition should be also considered for taking final decision.

The following complications or conditions crop up for women who have polycystic ovary syndrome, particularly if accompanied with obesity:

  • High blood pressure
  • Cholesterol and lipid abnormalities
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Metabolic syndrome
  • Heart ailments
  • Sleep apnea
  • Fat accumulation in liver
  • Cancer of uterine lining
  • Abnormal uterine bleeding

Causes of Polycystic ovary syndrome

The causes of polycystic ovary syndrome are as follows:

  • Low grade inflammation: The substances produced by the white blood cells for fighting the infection and inflammation, lead to insulin resistance and cholesterol accumulation in blood vessels, which causes the cardiovascular ailments. Researchers have found that women with polycystic ovary syndrome have low-grade inflammation.
  • Excess insulin: The insulin secreted by pancreas allows the cells to use sugar and improve the energy levels of body. But when it secretes excess insulin, then it may boost the production of androgen by the ovary.
  • Abnormal fetal development: Excessive exposure to male hormones in fetal life, do not allow the normal genes to function. This gene expression promotes male model of abdominal fat distribution, increasing the risk of insulin resistance and low-grade inflammation.
  • Heredity: The chances of developing polycystic ovary syndrome are more common for women, when her sister or mother also has polycystic ovary syndrome.

Polycystic ovary syndrome

Treatment of polycystic ovary syndrome generally tends to concentrate on the management of the accompanying conditions such as hirsutism, infertility, obesity and acne.

The following are the treatments for the symptoms and conditions associated with polycystic ovary syndrome:

  • Medications: The doctor may prescribe the following medications as per the individual cases:
    • Rectifying improper menstrual cycle: For women who do not wish to become pregnant, low-dose birth control pills (which contain synthetic progesterone and estrogen) are administered to control androgen production, to reduce the risk of endometrial cancer and to correct the abnormal bleeding.
    • Administering progesterone for 10 to 14 days in a month can regularize the menstrual cycle, and protect against endometrial cancer. But it does not help to maintain the levels of androgen.
    • Administering metformin for a severe diabetes patient can reduce the insulin levels, and improve the menstrual cycle. Diet control and regular exercises will help in the recovery.
    • Ovulation Assistance:
      • For women who want to become pregnant, administering Clomiphene citrate will help to regulate the menstrual cycle. If it is not effective the doctor may include metformin to induce ovulation.
      • If the women do not conceive even after taking clomiphene and metformin, the doctor may recommend gonadotropins injection.
      • Reducing excessive hair growth:
        • Birth control pills are given to reduce androgen production, and spironolactone to block the effects of androgen. If a woman is pregnant or wishes to become pregnant, then she should not take this medication because it may cause birth defects. Eflornithine cream slowdown the facial hair growth
        • Surgery:
          • If polycystic ovary syndrome does not respond to the medications, then laparoscopic ovarian drilling is an available option. Under this procedure a small incision is made in the abdomen and a tube is inserted with a tiny camera, which provides the detailed images of the ovary and the nearby pelvic organs. If it is required, another small incision is made, through which the surgical instruments are inserted. In this process, electrical or laser energy is used to burn the holes in follicles present on the surface of ovary.
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