Irregular menstrual periods, including prolonged or infrequent cycles, may be a sign you have polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), a common hormonal disorder occurring during your reproductive years. The medical health professionals at Suburban OB/GYN in St. Louis, Missouri, can diagnose and treat you if PCOS is an issue, and help you with lifestyle changes to prevent further problems. Call or click today for an appointment.
A hormonal disorder that causes irregular periods, excessive male hormone levels, or fluid-filled cysts in your ovaries, the causes of PCOS aren’t precisely known. You’re at increased risk if you have a family history of PCOS or diabetes. If left untreated, PCOS may be a risk factor in the development of diabetes and heart disease.
Usually, symptoms are mild during the early stages of the syndrome. The ovarian cysts that give the condition its name are common to anyone with the condition, but these rarely reveal themselves through symptoms.
Women with PCOS frequently experience fewer than nine menstrual periods annually. When these do occur, bleeding may be excessive. In other cases, some women have no periods at all. PCOS may be detected through elevated levels of androgen, the male hormone that’s normally manufactured by your body in small amounts. Excess androgen may cause acne, male-pattern hair loss, as well as increased facial and body hair.
Factors that may contribute to PCOS include overproduction of insulin. When your body builds resistance to insulin, blood sugar rises, causing an increase in the production of insulin. Carrying excess weight, which often complicates blood sugar levels, is frequently connected with PCOS.
Another symptom common in women with PCOS is low-grade inflammation producing high white blood cell counts, which stimulates androgen production. This may lead to heart disease and blood vessel disorders.
If you’re actively trying to get pregnant, your Suburban OB/GYN care provider may prescribe medication to stimulate ovulation, which is often erratic or non-existent with PCOS. These may be provided orally or through injection.
Regulating your menstrual cycle is usually addressed with combination birth control pills. These decrease androgen production while simultaneously regulating estrogen, restoring your body to more normal balance. Birth control pills may also reduce unwanted hair growth.
Suburban OB/GYN can also help you develop a lifestyle plan including counseling for dietary choices and exercise, which may reduce or eliminate the symptoms of PCOS. Changes in body weight of even five percent can often reduce symptoms and improve the effectiveness of other treatments.