Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (also commonly called Polycystic Ovarian Diasease, abbreviated as PCOS or PCOD) encompasses a wide spectrum of symptoms. Just like Endometriosis or Interstitial Cystitis, women who are affected by this disease can suffer a wide range of issues and could have a mild, moderate, or severe case.
Many women who have PCOS don’t know they have it. A general practitioner might not be able to recognize the relationships between these symptoms and might not think of a women’s health issue as the culprit. She may think you are not getting enough exercise or he may think you have a hormonal imbalance– and they might not be sure exactly where to go from there. Symptoms oftentimes seem unrelated and can include the following:
- irregular menstrual cycles
- difficulty getting pregnant/lack of ovulation
- oily skin
- facial hair growth in unwanted places
- weight gain and obesity
- blood sugar problems (pancreas makes insulin but sugars not broken down in body)
- high levels of progesterone
When we see patients with these symptoms we immediately look for a PCOS diagnosis. We obtain a medical history from her, we complete a vaginal ultrasound looking for enlarged ovaries with cysts, and we send her for a blood test to check for specific hormone levels. If we determine that she does in fact have PCOS we will want to start treatment. Our goal is to regulate her hormone levels, create regular menstrual cycles, and reduce any insulin resistance she is experiencing. As the body begins to normalize her symptoms will slowly be reduced. We will want to continue treating her until her symptoms completely normalize and quality of life is restored. Treatment will be necessary until menopause or until she experiences a surgical hysterectomy.