Polycystic ovary syndrome is a condition in which there is an imbalance of a woman's female sex hormones. This hormone imbalance may cause changes in the menstrual cycle, skin changes, small cysts in the ovaries, trouble getting pregnant, and other problems.
PCOS is one of the most common causes of fertility issues in women, but it's rarely addressed publicly and can be, at times, hard to diagnose. Starting as young as 13 or 14 and ranging up to menopause, PCOS can affect any woman and with a variety of symptoms.
Symptoms of PCOS can be mild, moderate or severe. They can also be a 'coctail' of any that are listed below:
Changes in the menstrual cycle:
Absent periods, usually with a history of having one or more normal menstrual periods during puberty (secondary amenorrhea)
Irregular menstrual periods, which may be more or less frequent, and may range from very light to very heavy
Development of male sex characteristics (virilization):
Decreased breast size
Deepening of the voice
Enlargement of the clitoris
Increased body hair on the chest, abdomen, and face, as well as around the nipples (called hirsutism)
Thinning of the hair on the head, called male-pattern baldness
Other skin changes:
Acne that gets worse
Dark or thick skin markings and creases around the armpits, groin, neck, and breasts due to insulin sensitivity
Some women may only exhibit irregular periods or some women may have irregular periods, increased hair, insulin resistance, elevated testosterone, etc. all at once.
When you sit down with your Dr, OB or Endochronologist, and list out your symptoms, be they many or one, you may be given a round of testing. These tests will determine your insulin, how it's processed, your testosterone, estrogen and thyroid. There are other tests that may be run, but the previous listed are the most common. Other tests may include:
Pregnancy test (serum HCG)
Vaginal ultrasound to look at the ovaries
Pelvic laparoscopy to look more closely at, and possibly biopsy the ovaries
Once a diagnosis is confirmed, treatment may begin. As varying of the symptoms, so are the treatments. Some may only need a diet and weight modification. Others may need medications as well as diet and exercise adjustments. All will be an effort to balance hormones and increase ovulation regularity.
Birth control pills or progesterone
Metformin or Clomid
LH-releasing hormone (LHRH) analogs
Only you and your doctor can determine what the best course of action is. If you are ever uncomfortable with a diagnosis or treatment, seek a second opinion. Learning from others with the same experience can also be beneficial. There are two fantastic groups called SoulCysters and PCOSSupport that can help connect you with others, give you information and help guide you through this confusing time.
Never be afraid to ask a question or ask for help. PCOS can be confusing and scary at times. Follow directions and try to stick to a healthy diet and exercise routine.
Medical publication- http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0001408/
WebMD Overview- http://women.webmd.com/tc/polycystic-ovary-syndrome-pcos-topic-overview