What is Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)?

Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, or PCOS, is a common condition affecting women of reproductive age, and as The London Gynaecologist, I frequently encounter patients curious or concerned about this diagnosis. This article aims to demystify PCOS, exploring its causes, symptoms, and treatment options, with the goal of providing clarity and reassurance.

Understanding PCOS

PCOS is characterized by hormonal imbalances that affect the ovaries, the organs responsible for producing oestrogen and progesterone — the hormones that regulate the menstrual cycle. A key feature of PCOS is the development of cysts (small, fluid-filled sacs) on the ovaries.

Causes of PCOS

The exact cause of PCOS is not fully understood, but several factors are thought to play a role, including:

  • Genetics: A family history of PCOS increases your risk.
  • Insulin Resistance: Many women with PCOS have insulin resistance, leading to elevated insulin levels that may increase androgen production, causing difficulty with ovulation.
  • Inflammation: Women with PCOS often have increased levels of inflammation in their body.

Symptoms of PCOS

Symptoms of PCOS can vary but often include:

  • Irregular periods or no periods at all
  • Heavy bleeding during periods
  • Growth of hair on the face, chest, or back
  • Acne or oily skin
  • Difficulty getting pregnant (due to irregular ovulation or failure to ovulate)
  • Weight gain

Treating PCOS

While there is no cure for PCOS, the symptoms can be managed with a combination of lifestyle changes, medication, and, in some cases, surgery. Treatment options include:

  • Lifestyle Changes: Diet and exercise can help reduce the risk of obesity and diabetes, improving symptoms for many women.
  • Medications: Birth control pills can regulate periods and reduce acne and hair growth. Other medications may be prescribed to stimulate ovulation if you’re trying to conceive.
  • Surgical Options: In some cases, procedures like ovarian drilling can reduce the production of male hormones and stimulate ovulation.

For those seeking further information or support managing PCOS, I encourage you to explore our resources and services. Understanding PCOS is the first step towards effective management and living a healthy, balanced life.