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If you are a woman who is struggling to get pregnant you may have heard of Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS). If not, you have probably never heard of it and boy is it a mouth full. The symptoms for Polycystic Ovary Syndrome can vary from person to person and the exact cause for this condition isn’t well understood. Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, commonly known as PCOS, is a hormonal imbalance that causes irregular menstrual periods and can often go undetected. We have all had months were our cycles were just off due to different lifestyle factors and didn’t think twice about it.
But it is more than just irregular periods. Additional symptoms for Polycystic Ovary Syndrome can include excessive hair growth or male patterned baldness, acne, obesity, polycystic ovaries, and excessive androgen (also known as testosterone). PCOS can develop during puberty or later in life, due to lifestyle changes such as substantial weight gain or increased blood sugar. Women with PCOS might not even know they have this condition until their childbearing age when trying to conceive. Not to worry, PCOS is treatable and there is the possibility to get pregnant and have a healthy baby. Let’s understand more about the symptoms of Polycystic Ovary Syndrome and ways to treat this condition.
How Is Polycystic Ovary Syndrome Diagnosed?
Diagnosing PCOS is not so easy because the individual symptoms for Polycystic Ovary Syndrome can be mild to severe and you don’t necessarily need all of them to have this condition. There is not a single test for PCOS, but there are multiple things that can happen in order to detect what is going on. Understanding the symptoms of Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, in conjunction with discussing your menstrual history, family history, and whether you have been trying to conceive unsuccessfully will get you on the right path.
Blood Tests. There is not a specific blood test that indicates if you have PCOS, but a panel of tests are run to measure hormone levels. If the male hormone (androgen) levels are elevated then additional testing of your glucose, cholesterol, and triglycerides could be performed. Higher than normal androgen levels is not the only indicator of PCOS, there are still a few other symptoms for Polycystic Ovary Syndrome that must be confirmed before diagnosing. However, running blood work will definitely get the ball rolling on helping to determine what might be going on.
Physical Exam. In addition to running blood work, your healthcare provider will also perform a physical exam. This exam could include checking for other symptoms for Polycystic Ovary Syndrome such as physical changes of excessive body and facial hair growth, acne, and occasional male patterned baldness. There should also be a pelvic exam to check for any problems with your ovaries and uterus and your provider may want to do an ultrasound to check for abnormal follicles. Your ovaries could be enlarged with small follicles surrounding them that could be causing them to function improperly.
Who Gets Polycystic Ovary Syndrome?
Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome does not discriminate against race or ethnicity. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, Polycystic Ovary Syndrome is one of the most common causes of infertility and affects as many as 5 million US women of childbearing age. Most women discover they have PCOS in their 20s and 30s when trying to get pregnant and decide to see their doctor. Women who have a family history of PCOS or women with obesity are at a higher risk of getting PCOS than women who are not obese or have a family history. Women with PCOS often are insulin resistant increasing their risk for type 2 diabetes.
Treating Polycystic Ovary Syndrome
Sometimes the symptoms for Polycystic Ovary Syndrome are clear and other times they are not. Adding up the evidence for diagnosing PCOS can be time-consuming and frustrating especially if there have been separate visits to doctors for acne, weight gain, and irregular periods. Once diagnosed, the great news is that PCOS has treatment options. Definitely talk to your physician about your health goals and how you want to tackle the symptoms for polycystic ovary syndrome. In the meantime, here are 5 potential treatment options for PCOS.
1.Diet and Lifestyle Changes. Two of the best things you can do for yourself is to eat a healthy diet and exercise regularly. Many women with PCOS are overweight or obese and losing bodyweight could help with regulating periods and also controlling blood sugar. Too many Starchy, sugary foods could be contributing to increased blood sugar so start by limiting those categories. Then try and make sure you are moving daily, sitting less, and getting outdoors for some fresh air and vitamin D. You might be amazed after a couple of weeks that you start feeling an increase in your energy, sleeping better and daily tasks just seem easier.
Read More: Tips For Fostering A Healthy Gut Microbiome
2.Hormone Treatment. While Daily Mom offers a lot of great advice, we are not doctors so we will leave this up to the professionals. What can be said is that you know your body so make sure you are advocating for yourself and your body. You know what feels right and what might be off so make your voice heard. There may be a combination of things that need to happen including lifestyle changes and medication so working with your healthcare provider to tailor a plan for your needs and symptoms is going to be best.
3.Menstrual Cycle Regulation. For women who do not wish to get pregnant, taking a contraceptive pill (also known as birth control) can help to regulate and restore a regular period. There is also the option of taking the hormone pill, progestin, to help get your periods back on track. This pill does not prevent pregnancies nor does it help with acne or unwanted hair growth.
Getting Pregnant With PCOS
You CAN get pregnant with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome. Speaking with your doctor and creating a plan is going to be your best bet in setting up your goal for your PCOS treatment. Your doctor might recommend some medications to help regulate your hormone levels, developing a diet and exercise plan, testing your blood sugar, and using an ovulation app or even an at-home ovulation kit to get started. If fertility help is needed, potential injections and IVF might also be offered as additional methods to get pregnant. Regardless of the path you take, there is the opportunity to have a baby or more if you decide.
PCOS might make it harder to get pregnant because of its impact on your menstruation cycle, but getting treatment can assist with your pregnancy goals and also help with other health conditions such as type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, sleep apnea, and potential stroke. The key takeaway is that symptoms for Polycystic Ovary Syndrome can vary and you do not need all defined symptoms to have this condition. It is a game of clue when trying to diagnose, however once confirmed, there are treatment options and those options can be controlled by you. Regardless of what road you choose to take, don’t give up hope because success rates are optimistic!
WANT TO READ MORE?
Check out this article on How To Track Your Ovulation.
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