What is PCOS?
During menstruation, women commonly experience some painful cramps. Yet, some women face extreme cramps every day. Because cramps are so commonly talked about, many women may overlook this. However, this might be Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), which affects at least 7% of adult women. PCOS is a complex reproductive system condition that has the symptoms of higher androgen levels, menstrual irregularities, and/or small cysts on one or both ovaries. Higher androgen levels can lead to other conditions, such as increased acne, Hirsutism (condition where females grow dark, course hair in places men typically do) alopecia (hair loss condition). There are two versions of this disorder: morphological (polycystic ovaries) or predominantly biochemical (hyperandrogenemia), which inhibits follicular development, causes microcysts in the ovaries, anovulation, and causes menstrual changes. Furthermore, PCOS can cause infertility for most women.
Why might someone have PCOS?
The origin of PCOS is still unknown and being studied. It may occur due to genetic factors or environmental factors. For instance, a PCOS patient with obesity may face PCOS symptoms at a worse scale than a PCOS patient who isn’t obese. A PCOS patient’s diet, exercise habits, and general lifestyle can impact how severe their PCOS symptoms are.
Diagnosis for PCOS:
Currently, there is no one way of diagnosing PCOS . The common way to determine if a patient has PCOS is through a physical exam that check for excess hair growth, hormone levels, acne severity, and insulin resistance. Furthermore, ultrasound exams, blood tests, and a pelvic exam can help determine if a patient has PCOS. Ultrasound exams check for ovarian small cysts, which is a feature of PCOS; blood tests measure any abnormalities in androgen levels; pelvic exams examinate any reproductive system abnormalities that may be connected to PCOS.
If a patient has PCOS, the patient has higher risk of depression, anxiety, endometrial cancer (cancer in the uterine lining), dyslipidemia (irregular levels of cholesterol and other lipids), high blood pressure, heart attacks, and sleep apnea (sleeping disorder that involves breathing problems).
Available treatments for PCOS:
Since its cause is unknown, treatments for PCOS are directed towards treating its symptoms. For instance, laparoscopic ovarian,a surgical treatment for PCOS, directly treats high androgen levels by destroying androgen-producing tissue, which is supposed to make androgen levels lower. Furthermore, for obese patients, excercise can lead to weight loss, which can help reduce androgen levels.
There are various drugs/medications that target infertility caused by PCOS as well. For instance, clomiphene helps induce ovulation in PCOS patients, which can combat infertility. Initially, a dose of 50 mg per day for 5 days is given. If the patient has ovulation but is not pregnant, the treatment is continued for another five days. However, if ovulation does not occur after the first cycle, the dose may be increased to 100 mg daily for 5 days at least 30 days after the previous treatment. Gonadotropins can also help induce ovulation if clomiphene does not work.
Moreover, there are drugs that combat other causes aside from infertility. For instance, antiandrogens, such as Spironolactone, reduces androgen levels, leading to reduction in hirsutism, lipid/cholesterol levels, and acne. Additionally, birth control can help reduce symptoms of PCOS like androgen levels, hirsutism and acne. Statins help control cholesterol/lipid levels, which may be abnormal due to PCOS. Lastly, medroxyprogesterone acetate can help control reproductive system irregularities, such as uterine bleeding i and cholesterol levels.
Overall, polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a painful chronic condition. Identifying and treating PCOS costs approximately 4 billion dollars per year, but many women every year go undiagnosed and overlook the symptoms of PCOS. In current times, education on the female reproductive system is emphasized but we need to see direct change and find direct treatments for these reproductive system disorders.
Ndefo, U. A., Eaton, A., & Green, M. R. (2013). Polycystic ovary syndrome: a review of treatment options with a focus on pharmacological approaches. P & T : a peer-reviewed journal for formulary management, 38(6), 336–355.
Watson, S. (2021, April 19). Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS). Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/health/polycystic-ovary-disease.