Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) is a hormonal disorder that affects follicular growth during the ovarian cycle causing the affected follicles to remain in the ovary. The retained follicle forms into a cyst and with each ovarian cycle a new cyst are formed, women with PCOS typically have multiple cysts in their ovaries, caused by an overproduction of hormones called androgens.
It causes irregular periods as ovaries do not release eggs on time.
PCOS generally occurs in the life of a woman, between ages 15 to 44 years. Many women have PCOS but don’t know about it and their symptoms are also not that prominent. The 3 basic features of PCOS are:-
a) Few / multiple cysts in the ovaries
b) Irregular periods
c) Increase in male hormones
HOW CAN YOU CONFIRM THAT YOU HAVE PCOS OR NOT?
A diagnosis of PCOS can usually be made if other rare causes of the same symptoms have been ruled out and you meet at least 4 of the following 7 criteria:
- If you have irregular, heavy, or missed periods – this indicates that your ovaries do not regularly release eggs (ovulate) so irregular menstrual periods caused by a lack of ovulation or by irregular ovulation is the chief sign.
- If you have Higher than normal androgen levels- means blood tests showing you have high levels of “male hormones”, such as testosterone.
- Acanthosis nigricans which means darkening of the skin in the folds like the neck, upper inner thigh, under breasts, underarms area.
- If you have Early (pre-pubertal) male-pattern hair growth also known as hirsutism.
- If your Body weight is very high as up to 65% of PCOS women have an abnormal body mass index and this weight gain can result in irregular periods too.
- Polycystic ovaries on pelvic ultrasound- means scans showing you have polycystic ovaries or Collections of 12 or more egg follicles or “cysts” on your ovaries that may be larger than normal.
- A pelvic exam can be done to look for any problems with your ovaries or other parts of your reproductive tract.