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PCOS

What is it?

 

PCOS, or polycystic ovary syndrome, is a common hormonal condition amongst young women who menstruate (have a period).

 

Around 1 in 10 women on average have polycystic ovaries, and many of them will not experience any symptoms.

 

This occurs when follicles within the ovaries are underdeveloped and none of them mature into an egg. When there is no mature egg created in the ovaries, no egg will be released and therefore ovulation will not take place that month.

 

Tell me more.

The main effects of PCOS are

  • irregular periods
  • excess male hormone (androgen)
  • small fluid filled sacs in the ovaries (polycystic ovaries)

 

Irregular periods

 

Irregular periods include not having a normal timeframe between periods or heavier than average flow. With PCOS and irregular periods, typically this will mean that your body may not be regularly releasing eggs (ovulating).

 

Excess male hormone

 

Excess androgen in the female body may mean that you could have more facial hair or body hair than would typically grow if you did not have higher levels of male hormone. Similarly this can cause worse and sometimes severe acne for women with PCOS.

 

Polycystic ovaries

 

Polycystic ovaries are an effect in which fluid filled sacs will be created from follicles around the egg(s) that could cause the ovaries not to function normally.

 

Who's more at risk?

 

Women in their late teens and early 20s are the most likely to be diagnosed with PCOS. Women with excess insulin may be more likely to develop PCOS because excess insulin can lead to excess male hormone, androgen.

 

Being overweight or obese can also be linked to PCOS because heavier weight leads to higher insulin levels.

 

Low-grade inflammation which is a term used to describe the activity of the white blood cells that fight off infection can also be an indicator of PCOS.

 

Also women who have family history of PCOS or for other reasons have above normal levels of androgen (male hormone) in the body will be more likely to have PCOS.

 

There are many other complications other the main effects listed above that can occur with PCOS, so you should talk to your doctor if you are experiencing additional symptoms as she may need to check for other abnormalities.

 

How do I know if I have it?

 

There is no test that is 100% accurate in diagnosing you with PCOS, however there are certain things that doctors can do that will strongly indicate to them whether or not you have PCOS. These include

  • checking the body for unusual amounts of hair and acne
  • a pelvic exam
  • an ultrasound via the vagina (also called transvaginal)
  • blood tests

 

While the pelvic exam and ultrasound will look for signs of lumps in the ovaries, the blood tests will check for hormone levels, insulin levels and other indicators of PCOS.

 

Treatment

 

If you are diagnosed with PCOS, the doctor will probably conduct an initial screening for depression, anxiety, and troubles with sleep. If you are experiencing any of these things, they may prescribe you medication to help.

 

Other medications your doctor may prescribe to reduce your symptoms may include those to regulate your period, help you ovulate (release a monthly egg), and reduce any excess hair growth.

 

There are also certain lifestyle changes that will probably be recommended to help reduce side effects of PCOS.

  • The doctor will encourage maintaining a healthy weight because PCOS can worsen if you are overweight or obese.
  • A low carb diet is also recommended with PCOS because it can be a large help in maintaining your blood sugar levels.
  • Maintaining an active lifestyle can prevent insulin resistance and developing diabetes which are complications due to PCOS.

 

Fertility & PCOS

 

If it is fertility issues that you're struggling with, there are treatments ranging from medications to surgery to help. These medications will typically work by helping your body to ovulate. This is when the egg is release by the ovary to meet a sperm. The medications your medical team may recommend include:

 

  • clomiphene - The brand names of this drug include Clomid and Serophene. This medication is one of the most effective infertility treatments for people with PCOS. It is taken at the beginning of your cycle to treat irregular ovulation and inability to ovulate by causing you to ovulate

 

  • GnRH medications - These are gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) medicines which are given by an injection. A woman's body produces this hormone naturally which has an important role in ovulation. During the monthly cycle, follicles (immature eggs) will appear in the ovaries. One of these follicles will. become a mature egg, while the others will not. To successfully make one of these follicles mature, the GnRH is there to cause a drop in follicular-stimulating hormone (FSH) and an increase in luteinizing hormone (LH). The reduction of FSH and the increase of LH is essential for a mature egg to develop to be released.

 

  • letrozole - Along with clomiphene, this medication is one of the most effective infertility treatments for people with PCOS. You may know this drug by its brand name, Femara. It is a drug that lowers the levels of estrogen in the body, allowing the body to ovulate more easily. Because it lowers estrogen in the body, it is also commonly used for breast cancer treatment when the cancer is connected to estrogen levels.

 

  • metformin - The brand name of metformin is Glucophage. Metformin is typically used for people who are prediabetic or people who have type 2 diabetes. Your medical team may suggest taking metformin at the same time as clomiphene to help your body ovulate.

 

If none of the above medications work for you, ask your doctor if you're a good candidate for either surgery or IVF.

 

Surgery

A small surgery called laparoscopic ovarian drilling (LOD) is sometimes used to treat infertility caused by PCOS. This uses heat or a laser to break down the lumps (tissue) in the ovaries that may be preventing fertility and producing testoserone. However, with the newer medications on the market, this surgery is uncommon.

 

IVF (In vitro fertilization)

This is another good option for people who aren't seeing the results they want from the ovulation medication. IVF is where mature eggs are removed from your body and are fertilized with your partner's sperm to create an embryo. Then, the fertilized egg will be put back into your uterus. This is an expensive procedure, and it is not guaranteed to work, so it's important that you ask your medical team what is right for you and your partner.

 

Have any other questions?

 

If you have any questions that you can't find the answer to related to PCOS, reach out to us in chat, and we'd be happy to help with your questions there!

What is it?

 

PCOS, or polycystic ovary syndrome, is a common hormonal condition amongst young women who menstruate (have a period).

 

Around 1 in 10 women on average have polycystic ovaries, and many of them will not experience any symptoms.

 

This occurs when follicles within the ovaries are underdeveloped and none of them mature into an egg. When there is no mature egg created in the ovaries, no egg will be released and therefore ovulation will not take place that month.

 

Tell me more.

Graphic representation of PCOS

The main effects of PCOS are

  • irregular periods
  • excess male hormone (androgen)
  • small fluid filled sacs in the ovaries (polycystic ovaries)

 

Irregular periods

 

Irregular periods include not having a normal timeframe between periods or heavier than average flow. With PCOS and irregular periods, typically this will mean that your body may not be regularly releasing eggs (ovulating).

 

Excess male hormone

 

Excess androgen in the female body may mean that you could have more facial hair or body hair than would typically grow if you did not have higher levels of male hormone. Similarly this can cause worse and sometimes severe acne for women with PCOS.

 

Polycystic ovaries

 

Polycystic ovaries are an effect in which fluid filled sacs will be created from follicles around the egg(s) that could cause the ovaries not to function normally.

 

Who's more at risk?

 

Women in their late teens and early 20s are the most likely to be diagnosed with PCOS. Women with excess insulin may be more likely to develop PCOS because excess insulin can lead to excess male hormone, androgen.

 

Being overweight or obese can also be linked to PCOS because heavier weight leads to higher insulin levels.

 

Low-grade inflammation which is a term used to describe the activity of the white blood cells that fight off infection can also be an indicator of PCOS.

 

Also women who have family history of PCOS or for other reasons have above normal levels of androgen (male hormone) in the body will be more likely to have PCOS.

 

There are many other complications other the main effects listed above that can occur with PCOS, so you should talk to your doctor if you are experiencing additional symptoms as she may need to check for other abnormalities.

 

How do I know if I have it?

 

There is no test that is 100% accurate in diagnosing you with PCOS, however there are certain things that doctors can do that will strongly indicate to them whether or not you have PCOS. These include

  • checking the body for unusual amounts of hair and acne
  • a pelvic exam
  • an ultrasound via the vagina (also called transvaginal)
  • blood tests

 

While the pelvic exam and ultrasound will look for signs of lumps in the ovaries, the blood tests will check for hormone levels, insulin levels and other indicators of PCOS.

 

Treatment

 

If you are diagnosed with PCOS, the doctor will probably conduct an initial screening for depression, anxiety, and troubles with sleep. If you are experiencing any of these things, they may prescribe you medication to help.

 

Other medications your doctor may prescribe to reduce your symptoms may include those to regulate your period, help you ovulate (release a monthly egg), and reduce any excess hair growth.

 

There are also certain lifestyle changes that will probably be recommended to help reduce side effects of PCOS.

  • The doctor will encourage maintaining a healthy weight because PCOS can worsen if you are overweight or obese.
  • A low carb diet is also recommended with PCOS because it can be a large help in maintaining your blood sugar levels.
  • Maintaining an active lifestyle can prevent insulin resistance and developing diabetes which are complications due to PCOS.

 

Fertility & PCOS

 

If it is fertility issues that you're struggling with, there are treatments ranging from medications to surgery to help. These medications will typically work by helping your body to ovulate. This is when the egg is release by the ovary to meet a sperm. The medications your medical team may recommend include:

 

  • clomiphene - The brand names of this drug include Clomid and Serophene. This medication is one of the most effective infertility treatments for people with PCOS. It is taken at the beginning of your cycle to treat irregular ovulation and inability to ovulate by causing you to ovulate

 

  • GnRH medications - These are gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) medicines which are given by an injection. A woman's body produces this hormone naturally which has an important role in ovulation. During the monthly cycle, follicles (immature eggs) will appear in the ovaries. One of these follicles will. become a mature egg, while the others will not. To successfully make one of these follicles mature, the GnRH is there to cause a drop in follicular-stimulating hormone (FSH) and an increase in luteinizing hormone (LH). The reduction of FSH and the increase of LH is essential for a mature egg to develop to be released.

 

  • letrozole - Along with clomiphene, this medication is one of the most effective infertility treatments for people with PCOS. You may know this drug by its brand name, Femara. It is a drug that lowers the levels of estrogen in the body, allowing the body to ovulate more easily. Because it lowers estrogen in the body, it is also commonly used for breast cancer treatment when the cancer is connected to estrogen levels.

 

  • metformin - The brand name of metformin is Glucophage. Metformin is typically used for people who are prediabetic or people who have type 2 diabetes. Your medical team may suggest taking metformin at the same time as clomiphene to help your body ovulate.

 

If none of the above medications work for you, ask your doctor if you're a good candidate for either surgery or IVF.

 

Surgery

A small surgery called laparoscopic ovarian drilling (LOD) is sometimes used to treat infertility caused by PCOS. This uses heat or a laser to break down the lumps (tissue) in the ovaries that may be preventing fertility and producing testoserone. However, with the newer medications on the market, this surgery is uncommon.

 

IVF (In vitro fertilization)

This is another good option for people who aren't seeing the results they want from the ovulation medication. IVF is where mature eggs are removed from your body and are fertilized with your partner's sperm to create an embryo. Then, the fertilized egg will be put back into your uterus. This is an expensive procedure, and it is not guaranteed to work, so it's important that you ask your medical team what is right for you and your partner.

 

Have any other questions?

 

If you have any questions that you can't find the answer to related to PCOS, reach out to us in chat, and we'd be happy to help with your questions there!

Symptom list:

PCOS

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Financial support

Not all of us are able to afford the treatment we need. Search your insurance coverage, or check out what charities may be able to offer you for your condition.

p.s. Just because you have insurance, that doesn't mean that charities or other organizations are not able to support you too.

Emotional support

Whether it's a free counseling session or to find someone with a similar diagnosis, these Germie approved charities might be able to help. Click to explore their offerings!

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