Polycystic Ovary Syndrome is a common disease, which can cause symptoms such as irregular periods, excessive facial or body hair, acne, infertility, irregular spotting and obesity.
Just because you have PCOS does not mean that you are infertile. Many women with PCOS fall pregnant naturally, whereas others require some level of medical assistance to help ovulation to occur regularly. You can have polycystic ovaries without having PCOS.
Getting A Diagnosis: PCOS is normally diagnosed through an ultrasound and/or blood tests.
Polycystic ovaries tend to have a string of many small cysts around their edges, which show up on an ultrasound.
You may have any of the following blood tests:
· Full blood count, to check that you are not anaemic
· Thyroid function
· Testosterone, as many women with PCOS have a raised level of testosterone
· Luteinsing Hormone (LH) which can be raised in PCOS sufferers
· Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH). You might also be offered an oral glucose tolerance test as many women with PCOS have raised levels of the hormone insulin and have a tendency towards insulin resistance
Treatments: Some GPs offer women the birth control pill as a treatment for PCOS and the brand Dianette is often offered to women who have problems with acne or excessive body hair.
Clomid or Clomiphene Citrate is often offered to women who are not ovulating and who wish to become pregnant. If Clomid does not work, then injectable hormones may be used which stimulate the ovary to produce eggs.
Metformin is another drug, which can be used either alone or together with Clomid. It improves insulin sensitivity and can also help with weight loss and help ovulation. It can have side effects such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, and abdominal bloating.
Laparoscopic Ovarian Diathermy (Ovarian Drilling) is another treatment, which is more suitable for women who are close to their ideal body weight. It involves a laparoscopy with a general anaesthetic and is performed as day surgery. Small holes are made in the cysts of the ovary using a probe or laser. It can restore ovulation and make the ovary more sensitive to hormones.
Helping Yourself: Weight loss is the first and most effective treatment for PCOS. A weight loss of 10% is usually enough to re-start periods or make them regular and ovular. Women with PCOS who are significantly overweight are more likely to have difficulty conceiving, are more likely to miscarry and more likely to develop gestational diabetes in pregnancy and maturity-onset diabetes (Type II) in later life.
A low-fat, high fibre diet is most effective for aiding weight loss in PCOS, but sufferers must be patient and persistent, as safe and permanent weight loss can be slow and difficult to achieve.
Many women have found that their symptoms are reduced by eating healthily, drinking more water, reducing alcohol consumption, giving up smoking and taking regular exercise.
Alternative Therapies: Some women have found the following alternative therapies helpful; acupuncture, aromatherapy, herbal medicine, homeopathy and reflexology.
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