Polycystic Ovary Disease (PCOD): Symptoms and Treatment

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What is Polycystic Ovary Disease?

Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) or Polycystic ovary disease (PCOD) is one of the most common endocrine disorders in women of reproductive age.

PCOS is a condition in which a woman’s levels of the sex hormones oestrogen and progesterone are out of balance. This leads to the growth of ovarian cysts (benign masses on the ovaries). PCOS can cause problems with a women’s menstrual cycle, fertility, cardiac function, and appearance.

The diverse manifestations of PCOS start at an early age when a girl is maturing into a young woman. While the exact cause of PCOS is unknown, doctors believe that hormonal imbalances and genetics play a role.

Women are more likely to develop PCOS if their mother or sister also has the condition. Androgen is a male sex hormone that women’s bodies also produce.

Women with PCOS often produce higher-than-normal levels of androgen. This can affect the development and release of eggs during ovulation. Excess insulin (a hormone that helps convert sugars and starches into energy) may cause high androgen levels.

PCOD: Symptoms

Symptoms of PCOD typically start soon after a woman begins to menstruate.

The symptoms can be

• Excess hair on the face, chest, stomach, thumbs, or toes
• Decrease in breast size
• Deeper voice
• Thin hair
• Acne
• Weight gain
• Pelvic pain
• Anxiety or depression
• Infertility

The primary treatments for PCOS include lifestyle changes, medications and surgery. A healthy diet and regular exercise are recommended for all women with PCOS, particularly those who are overweight. This can help to regulate your menstrual cycle and lower your blood glucose levels.

Medications for PCOS include oral contraceptives and metformin.

PCOD: Risk Factors

Risk factors include obesity, not enough physical exercise, and a family history of someone with the condition.

Women with PCOS have a higher risk of developing:

• Hypertension (high blood pressure)
• High cholesterol
• Anxiety and depression
• Sleep apnea (when a person stops breathing periodically during sleep)
• Endometrial cancer (cancer caused by thickening of the lining of the uterus)
• Heart attack
• Diabetes
• Breast cancer

Not all women with PCOS have difficulty becoming pregnant. Women with PCOS have a higher rate of miscarriage, gestational diabetes, and premature delivery. They may need extra monitoring during pregnancy. They are generally marked as "high-risk pregnancies".

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