What is PCOS/PCOD?
PCOS is a condition where more androgens (male hormones) are produced, which effect the normal development and release of a good quality egg on time, thereby effecting fertility. This is a condition in which there is hormonal imbalance during the childbearing age (15-44 years), resulting in irregular menstrual cycles and the inability to have children.
The ovaries mainly produce estrogen, progesterone and small quantities of androgens (male hormones). The ovarian hormones are controlled by pituitary hormones namely Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH) is for follicle production and estrogen; and Luteinizing Hormone (LH) triggers egg maturation and ovulation. PCOS is a “syndrome,” that affects the ovaries and ovulation.
Its three main features are:
- Multiple cystsin the ovaries (polycystic Ovaries)
- High levels of androgens (stimulate facial hairs, Hirusitism)
- Irregular or skipped periods (Oligomenorrhea)
These follicles, each containing an immature egg, these eggs do not mature to trigger ovulation. In the absence of ovulation levels of estrogen, progesterone, FSH, and LH are not normal, with androgen levels higher than usual. This excess male hormone disrupts menstrual cycles leading to oligomenorrhea (Less than normal Cycles).
How does PCOS affect a women
PCOS cases have difficulty in getting pregnancy.
In case pregnancy occurs, PCOS cases have:
- Higher chances of miscarriage,
- gestational diabetes and
- High blood pressure during pregnancy in women above 35 yrs of age.
Causes of PCOS:
The main cause of PCOS is not sure. But the main effect is due to the high level of male hormones. This prevents the ovaries from producing ovarian hormones and producing eggs and egg maturation. Some of the factors involved implicate the following:
- Genes—PCOS runs into families. One or many genes may be involved.
- Insulin resistance. 70% PCOS cases show the cells cannot use insulin properly, so, there is the excess of insulin in the body.
- Androgenisation-Insulin resistance leads high levels of blood insulin and this stimulates the ovaries to produce more androgens leading to acne, increase hair, weight gain, irregular periods etc.
- Obesity– Insulin resistance leads to obesity and increases the risk of diabetes type2
- Internal Inflammation–Women with PCOS often have increased levels of inflammation in their body.
Symptoms vary from patient to patient,
Some of the symptoms of PCOS are:
- Infertility because of not ovulating. PCOS is the most common cause of female infertility. Irregular or absence of menstrual periods.
- Hirsutism—increased hair growth on the face, chest, stomach, back, thumbs, or toes.
- Cysts on the ovaries
- Acne and Oily skin, or dandruff
- Weight gain, usually with extra weight around the waist
- Male type baldness or thinning of hair.
- Dark brown or black patches on skin around neck, arms, breasts, or thighs.
- Excess flaps of skin in the neck and the armpits area.
- High levels of cholesterol and diabetes.