Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS): Symptoms and Causes

Polycystic ovary syndrome is a problem with hormones that affects women during their childbearing years usually between the ages of 15 to 44. Some women with PCOS have cysts on their ovaries. That’s why it’s called “polycystic.” But the name is misleading because many women with PCOS don’t have cysts.

Hormones and PCOS

When you have PCOS, your reproductive hormones are out of balance. This can lead to problems with your ovaries, such as not having your period on time or not getting it.

The hormones that play a role in PCOS include:

  • Androgens. They’re often called male hormones, but women have them, too. Women with PCOS tend to have higher levels.
  • Insulin This hormone manages your blood sugar. If you have PCOS, your body might not react to insulin the way it should.
  • Progesterone . With PCOS, your body may not have enough of this hormone. You might miss your periods for a long time or have trouble predicting when they’ll come.

Symptoms of PCOS

  • Irregular periods. Infrequent, irregular or prolonged menstrual cycles are the most common sign of PCOS. For example, you might have fewer than nine periods a year, more than 35 days between periods and abnormally heavy periods.
  • Excess androgen. Elevated levels of male hormone may result in physical signs, such as excess facial and body hair (hirsutism), and occasionally severe acne and male-pattern baldness.
  • Polycystic ovaries. Your ovaries might be enlarged and contain follicles that surround the eggs. As a result, the ovaries might fail to function regularly.

Causes of PCOS

The exact cause of PCOS isn’t known. Factors that might play a role include:

  • Excess insulin. Insulin is the hormone produced in the pancreas that allows cells to use sugar, your body’s primary energy supply. If your cells become resistant to the action of insulin, then your blood sugar levels can rise and your body might produce more insulin. Excess insulin might increase androgen production, causing difficulty with ovulation.
  • Low-grade inflammation. This term is used to describe white blood cells’ production of substances to fight infection. Research has shown that women with PCOS have a type of low-grade inflammation that stimulates polycystic ovaries to produce androgens, which can lead to heart and blood vessel problems.
  • Heredity. Research suggests that certain genes might be linked to PCOS.
  • Excess androgen. The ovaries produce abnormally high levels of androgen, resulting in hirsutism and acne.

The exact causes of PCOS are unknown, but if you develop at least two of the symptoms above, see your doctor.

Categories: Reproductive health

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