You Can Have A Family Despite Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome
Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) is a common hormonal disorder in women of childbearing age. This often seen endocrine disorder is the predominant cause of the inability to conceive. PCOS is defined by ovarian enlargement as a result of multiple, benign cysts seen on the outer edges of each ovary provoked by hormonal imbalance. This condition of unknown origin is medically scribed Stein-Leventhal Syndrome.
Primarily a hormonal imbalance, PCOS, is triggered by increased androgen production that results in an-ovulation and subsequent infertility. This occurs when the pituitary hormone (LH) and follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) become imbalanced. Typically, the masculine effects of the excess testosterone begin following menarche at normal age. Variance is seen in older patients as a response to significant weight gain and the inability to become pregnant.
The most common characteristic of this condition are irregular menstrual periods in adolescence, expressed as oligomenorrhea and secondary amenorrhea. Profuse bleeding may alternate with failure to menstruate for 3-months or longer. Prolonged periods may vacillate with scant or heavy flow. Obesity, hirsutism, acne, enlarged clitoris, slight deepening of the voice or enlarged, “oyster-like” ovaries may accompany this syndrome.
The absence of menstrual flow, amenorrhea, is classified as primary or secondary. While primary does not begin as expected by 16, secondary amenorrhea begins at an appropriate age, but ceases for three or more months in the absence of physiologic causes such as pregnancy, lactation or menopause. An-ovulation may result from hormonal imbalance, debilitating disease, eating disorders, stress or emotional disturbances, obesity and anatomical abnormalities.
Elevated male hormones carry the propensity for the acquisition of some masculine physical traits. Excess facial and body hair, acne, a deepened voice and androgenic alopecia in varying degrees can occur with increased androgen, particularly testosterone. Higher energy levels and increased sex drive are not unusual with excess androgen. Signs of excessive male hormone influence varies with ethnicity. Females from Northern Europe and Asia may not be visibly effected.
Enlarged ovaries possessing multiple, small cysts are usually detected via pelvic ultrasound. However, this symptom alone is not indicative for PCOS. Diagnostic confirmation includes abnormal menstrual cycles and the physical traits seen with overproduction of androgen.
Endocrine imbalances seen in PCOS are detected through laboratory measurements of both male and female hormone levels with the blood. Further investigation is via laparoscopic examination that will discover ovarian appearance in typical PCOS, if present. Any remaining questions regarding causative factions are answered through endometrial biopsy.
Besides infertility, there are deleterious, long-term, health implications with the diagnosis of PCOS. Innocuous yet psychologically impacting, occasionally there are cases of physical changes in the appearance of the skin called acanthosis nigricans, a darkening, textural effect seen on armpits, thighs, vulva and beneath the breasts. Physically, there is an increased risk obesity at 50% of PCOS suffers, diabetes 2 or varying degrees of glucose intolerance.
Polycystic ovarian syndrome can initiate a domino effect with glucose intolerance, obesity, diabetes, and high-blood pressure that can lead to heart disease and/or stroke. This syndrome carries a higher risk for uterine or breast cancer. Early diagnosis and appropriate treatment reduce the risk for complications.
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