Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a condition in which a woman’s hormones are out of balance. It can cause problems with periods and make it difficult to get pregnant. PCOS may also cause unwanted changes in appearance. If not treated in a timely manner, it can lead to serious health problems, such as diabetes and heart disease.
PCOS is common, affecting as many as 1 out of 15 women. Most women with PCOS grow many small cysts on their ovaries. The cysts are not harmful, but lead to hormone imbalances. Often symptoms of PCOS begin in the teen years. Treatment can help control symptoms and prevent long-term problems.
The most common symptoms of PCOS are:
- Weight gain and trouble losing weight,
- Extra hair on the face and body. Often women get thicker and darker facial hair and more hair on the chest, belly, and back.
- Thinning hair on the scalp,
- Irregular, few, or absent menstrual periods. May have very heavy bleeding.
- Infertility problems.
The symptoms of PCOS are caused by changes in hormone levels. There may be one or more causes for the hormone level changes. While the causes are unknown, insulin resistance, diabetes, and obesity are all strongly correlated with PCOS. It is also seen to run in families.
Medical treatment of PCOS is tailored to the patient's goals. Broadly, these may be considered under four categories:
1. Lowering insulin levels
2. Restoration of fertility
3. Treatment of hirsutism and acne
4. Restoration of regular menstruation, and prevention of endometrial hyperplasia and endometrial cancer
Regular exercise, a healthy diet, non smoking, and weight control are all important parts of treatment for PCOS. Hormone therapy is used to correct menstrual cycle problem,s male-type hair growth, hair loss, and acne. There is no cure for PCOS, but controlling it lowers the risks of infertility, miscarriages, diabetes, high cholesterol, heart disease, and uterine cancer.
Polycystic Ovary Syndrome: Top Ten Treatment Centers in the U.S.
1. Johns Hopkins Hospital, Baltimore, Md.
2. Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn.
3. Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Boston, Mass.
4. Cleveland Clinic, Cleveland, OH
5. Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, Mass.
6. Magee- Womens Hospital of UPMC, Pittsburg, Pa.
7. Duke University Medical Centre, Durham, N.C.
8. University of California, San Francisco Medical Centre, San Francisco, Calif.
9. New York- Presbyterian University Hospital of Columbia and Cornell, New York, N.Y.
10. Memorial Sloan- Kettering Cancer Center, New York, N.Y.
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