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Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is one of the most common reproductive health issues in the United States, affecting at least 5 million women in the reproductive age group.
The gynecologists at Maiden Lane Medical diagnose PCOS and offer personalized treatment plans to manage your symptoms and protect your fertility. Call the practice or schedule a consultation online if you have any PCOS symptoms.
Polycystic ovary syndrome is a reproductive health issue caused by an imbalance in reproductive hormone including:
The hormonal imbalance causes irregular ovulation and menstrual cycles. For example, the egg may not develop normally or may not be released during the ovulation stage of your menstrual cycle.
Irregular periods, including infrequent periods or heavy bleeding, are just one of the signs of polycystic ovary syndrome. Polycystic ovaries can also cause symptoms, including:
As PCOS interferes with egg production and normal ovulation, it is a leading cause of infertility in women.
Physicians, clinical endocrinologists, and medical researchers are still studying the causes of PCOS. While a single cause hasn’t been identified, there are several potential contributing factors. As mentioned, hormonal imbalances contribute to the condition.
Many women with PCOS have an androgen excess that interferes with the other sex hormones necessary for normal menstrual periods. Additionally, high insulin levels caused by diabetes or insulin resistance can lead to high androgens and suppressed female sex hormones.
Women with PCOS also tend to have chronic low-grade inflammation, which can interfere with hormone production and other body functions.
You may have an increased risk of developing polycystic ovary syndrome if you have a family history of the condition, are overweight, or have diabetes or another endocrine disorder.
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Abnormal periods have many potential causes. Therefore, the only way to know if you have polycystic ovary syndrome is to schedule a consultation with your gynecologist for an exam and testing.
Your doctor looks for two of three diagnostic criteria: hyper androgens, ovulatory dysfunction, and polycystic ovaries. Unfortunately, there is no single test for PCOS. In addition to reviewing your symptoms and performing a pelvic exam, they may order a pelvic ultrasound and blood tests to measure your hormones.
A pelvic ultrasound creates an image of your ovaries, which can show if they have abnormal cysts or follicles. The blood test can measure hormone levels, revealing abnormally high androgen levels or other hormone imbalances that could contribute to your symptoms.
Treating PCOS requires a highly personalized approach. Your doctor recommends treatments based on your symptoms, health history, and other needs. For example, if you want to get pregnant, your physician may prescribe drugs to induce ovulation or suggest another procedure to remove ovarian cysts or androgen-producing tissue.
However, if you aren’t planning on getting pregnant at the moment, your treatment of polycystic ovary syndrome may include hormonal birth control to regulate your periods. Hormonal contraceptives may also reduce acne and body hair growth.
Depending on your specific needs, your doctor might suggest insulin-sensitizing medicine like Metformin to increase your insulin sensitivity or medications to block androgens.
You might also benefit from lifestyle changes to support weight loss. For example, your body mass index and diet can affect hormone production, contributing to PCOS and other health issues such as high blood pressure, diabetes, metabolic syndrome, and heart disease.
While PCOS can make it more challenging to get pregnant, some women with the condition can conceive with the help of ovulation-stimulating drugs. In some cases, you may need to consider assisted reproductive treatments such as in vitro fertilization.
If you’ve been trying to get pregnant for a year without success, talk to your gynecologist to find out what’s causing your fertility issues and find the right treatment.
Alexandra Fleary, MD
Board Certified OB/GYN
Board Certified Gynecologist
Board Certified GynecologistFocused Practice Designation in Minimally Invasive Gynecologic Surgery
Board Certified OB/GYN
Board Certified Gynecologist & CEO and Managing Partner of Maiden Lane MedicalFocused Practice Designation in Minimally Invasive Gynecologic Surgery
Obstetrics and Gynecology Nurse Practitioner
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