What are the signs and symptoms of polycystic ovaries and how can they affect your fertility?
Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) is a common condition affecting up to 20% of women and can affect a woman’s periods, fertility, hormones and appearance. Polycystic ovaries is one feature of PCOS. Polycystic ovaries are enlarged and contain more follicles than normal ovaries.
Women with PCOS experience a number of symptoms; irregular or absent periods, increased facial or body hair, oily skin, being overweight and loss of hair on the head. Symptoms vary from woman to woman but reduced fertility is a common problem.
The symptoms of PCOS are related to a woman’s hormone levels. A woman with PCO will tend to produce too much testosterone (male hormone), which is usually only produced in small amounts by the ovaries. The testosterone is associated with many of the symptoms.
Insulin is another hormone that patients with PCO have in abundance, and it controls the levels of glucose in the blood. Patients overproduce insulin because their bodies are insulin resistant. High levels of insulin in the blood can cause weight game, irregular periods and fertility problems.
How are polycystic ovaries diagnosed?
It is not true that if the ovaries are polycystic then you will have all the symptoms of PCOS. The diagnosis of polycystic ovaries is usually made by ultrasound. A diagnosis of PCOS relies on three key criteria:
- Irregular or absent periods
- Higher testosterone causing facial hair and acne
- Ultrasound findings of polycystic ovaries
Can polycystic ovaries be treated?
There is no way to cure PCOS. The medical treatments available are more directed towards managing the symptoms. Lifestyle changes have been shown to be a great help in reducing the impact of this condition. Eating a healthy low carbohydrate diet, exercising regularly and maintaining a healthy lifestyle can be as important as medications.