Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS)
PCOS is an endocrine disorder that affects as much as 15% of all women. More specifically, it affects the female hormones of women in their reproductive stage of life. It is the presence of multiple fluid filled sacs on the ovaries, hence the term (polycystic ovaries). Characterized by symptoms such as Amenorrhea (No Menstrual Periods) or (irregular menstruation), unusual growth of hair (Hirstism) and acne to name a few. Originally discovered by Michael Leventhal and Irving Stein back in 1935, it was first named Stein-Leventhal disease. It wasn’t until later the name was changed to “Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome” based on the shared symptoms of pcos which were prevalent in most women with the disorder.
Common PCOS Symptoms
- irregular menstrual periods
- absent periods (amenorrhea)
- hair loss
- abnormal hair growth on the face and chest (Hirsutism)
- pain in the pelvic region
- sustained PMS symptoms
PCOS and Insulin Resistence
Some time in the 1980’s it was discovered that there was a connection with pcos and insulin resistance. Around 40% to 80% of women with polycystic ovary syndrome were reported to have issues with insulin resistance. Consequently, 40 percent of those women with resistance to insulin have a higher risk of developing diabetes around 40 yrs old.
PCOS And Diagnosis
PCOS is the most commonly mis-diagnosed female disorder and can be very difficult to confirm. Typically, good patient history, blood and hormone tests along with an ultrasound may be necessary to confirm the existence of polycystic ovary disease. A hormone test can be a good indicator since women with pcos generally have an abnormal ratio of LH to FSH hormones (usually higher than normal).
It has shown that when pcos is not treated it can lead to other serious health conditions such as high blood pressure, premature ovarian failure, diabetes, heart disease and endometrial hyperplasia (a condition that affects the inner lining of the uterus) as well as cancer of the uterus.