Polycystic ovary syndrome is a condition that causes cysts to develop on one or both ovaries. The condition can cause irregularities with egg release and unusually high levels of androgens in the body – which are so-called ‘male’ hormones. But with an early diagnosis the symptoms of polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) can be managed very well.
Make some lifestyle changes
There is evidence to suggest that being significantly overweight, leading a sedentary lifestyle and smoking can all exacerbate the symptoms of PCOS. It is believed that just losing five percent of your body weight can make a significant difference to the symptoms you’re dealing with. Exercise for at least 30 minutes three times a week, eat a healthy diet, stop smoking and limit your alcohol intake. You should find that things improve dramatically very quickly.
Depending on the specific nature of your symptoms, you might be prescribed a course of medication by a private gynaecologist. If you are experiencing erratic periods, you might be given the contraceptive pill in order to induce regular periods, or there is a chance you’ll be prescribed progesterone. This should also reduce the risk of developing cancer of the womb. It might also be necessary to insert an intrauterine system – commonly known as the hormonal coil – into your uterus.
Dealing with excessive hair growth
The excessive levels of male hormone that can be present in the body of a PCOS sufferer can lead to unwanted hair, but it can also lead to hair loss in some women. There are medications that either block the effects of male hormones or stop them being produced altogether. Some combined oral contraceptives can be taken in order to slow down both the loss and growth of hair. There is also a cream called eflornithine, which is known to slow down the growth of facial hair. However, you will probably need to pursue other hair removal treatments at the same time – including waxing, plucking and laser treatment.
If you’re pregnant
Polycystic ovary syndrome can increase the risks of developing high blood pressure and the potentially life-threatening condition pre-eclampsia during pregnancy. There is also a heightened risk of miscarriage and diabetes, so your consultant at the hospital might recommend extra ultrasound scans and regular pre-natal checks. There is also evidence that maintaining a ‘normal’ body weight during pregnancy can reduce the chances of these very serious ailments developing.
If you are trying to have a baby, you might discover that your PCOS is interrupting your menstrual cycle – making conception far less likely. If this is the case, a gynaecological consultant might recommend laparoscopic ovarian drilling, which involves a small incision to your abdomen. Using a tiny microscope for guidance, the surgeon will painstakingly destroy the tissue that is releasing male hormones with precision lasers. This treatment has proven to be very successful in rebalancing hormone levels in readiness for successful conception.
There is no way to completely cure PCOS, but addressing the root causes can seriously curtail the symptoms associated with the condition. Whether genetics, hormonal imbalances or resistance to insulin is the cause of your polycystic ovary syndrome, getting the expert help you need as soon as possible should allow you to lead a completely normal life.