Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a hormonal disorder affecting 12-18% of women of reproductive age. PCOS is a condition where at least two of the following conditions occur:
- Appearance of acne, excessive hair on your body
- Infrequent, absent, and/or irregular menstrual periods
- The presence of 10 to 12 small cysts in the ovaries.
You do not ovulate each month, and some women do not ovulate at all if they are suffering from PCOS. In women with PCOS, the ovary doesn’t make all of the hormones it needs for an egg to fully mature.
The follicles may start to grow and build up fluid but ovulation does not occur. Instead, some follicles may remain as cysts. For these reasons, ovulation does not occur and the hormone progesterone is not made. Without progesterone, a woman’s menstrual cycle is irregular or absent. Plus, the ovaries make male hormones, which also prevent ovulation.
So what can you do to have normal periods?
Although some women with PCOS have regular periods, high levels of androgen and also the hormone insulin, can disrupt the monthly cycle of ovulation and menstruation. If you have PCOS, your periods may be irregular or may stop altogether.
The average menstrual cycle is 28 days with one ovulation, but anywhere between 21 and 35 days is considered normal. You have irregular periods, if :
- eight or less menstural cycles in a calender year
- Cycles is longer than 35 days
To ensure a normal period during PCOS, your doctor can prescribe hormonal contraception. The medication can also reduce menstrual cramps, acne, and excess hair growth.
The estrogen and progesterone in hormonal contraception act to override the body’s normal hormonal control of menstrual cycle and ovulation. Production of hormones such as testosterone is greatly reduced by the oral contraceptive pill. Some oral contraceptive pills not only aim to block the effects of testosterone but also increase insulin resistance.
Why do some women have extra hair on their body or patches of dark skin?
Acne, extra hair are present on face and body can happen if there is excess of testosterone produced in the body. All women make testosterone, but in case of PCOS ovaries make more testosterone than usual. Skin cells and hair follicles are sensitive to even small increases in testosterone found in young women.
In young women, high level insulin can lead to dark patches on back of neck, underarms and in groin area.
Management of PCOS
A medicine which helps the body lower the insulin level is called Metformin. It’s particularly helpful in girls who have high levels of insulin, or have prediabetes or diabetes. Some girls are treated with both Metformin and birth control pills at the same time. Birth control pills can help you to:
- Regulate menstrual cycle
- Lower testosterone balance
- Correct hormone balance
- Reduce risk of endometrical cancer
However, it is must to seek doctor consultation before you can take any medicine.
Many women with PCOS are overweight or obese, which can cause health problems. You can help manage your PCOS by eating healthy and exercising to keep your weight at a healthy level.
Healthy eating tips include:
- Limiting processed foods and foods with added sugars
- Adding more whole-grain products, fruits, vegetables, and lean meats to your diet
This helps to lower blood glucose (sugar) levels, improve the body’s use of insulin, and normalize hormone levels in your body. Even a 10 percent loss in body weight can restore a normal period and make your cycle