Polycystic Ovary Syndrome affects about 10% of women. The syndrome usually begins in adolescence. The symptoms include irregular or absent periods and infertility. The male hormones, especially testosterone, result in excess facial hair, male pattern baldness, and acne.
Interestingly, not all women who have PCOS have cystic ovaries and about 20% of women have cystic ovaries and do not have PCOS.
There appears to be a relationship between insulin and PCOS and many women with PCOS are obese.
There are no direct tests to diagnose Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome. Doctors take extensive health histories, several blood tests to assess various hormone levels, and ultrasound to look at the condition of the ovaries.
The link between family, diabetes and PCOS is being studied at the University of Chicago. They have found that about a third of women with PCOS have abnormal glucose tolerance tests and 10% will develop diabetes before they are 40.
Treatments are varied. Because of the strong association with diabetes, nutrition and lifestyle are important elements in care. Birth control pills are used to regulate the regular sloughing of the lining of the uterus and reduce the risk of endometrial cancer. Hormones and hormone-suppressing drugs are given. Spirolactone, which is a 'water' pill, is also used to reduce the level of male hormones and may also reduce hair growth and acne.
Newer approaches to treatment are multifaceted. Some target insulin resistance. Stimulate of ovulation and in vitro-fertilization are used to are used to overcome fertility problems, while complimentary management includes electrolysis and laser to remove unwanted hair.
With a syndrome as complex as this, care may include a doctor specializing in women's health, gynecology, an endocrinologist, and a support group. Luckily, good doctors are available in large medical centers such as Lubbock. In larger centers, support groups are available. In smaller communities, the internet may provide this backup.
Remember, while PCOS is still not fully understood, it can be treated effectively.
You can check out the following internet sources for both good information and support by clicking on the link: