Many women struggle with infertility in Nigeria caused by various factors which are usually not detected on time. One of these factors can be Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome. Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) is a complex syndrome with no clear cause.
It means:
polycystic = many cysts

and syndromes = meaning a group of symptoms that affect the ovaries.

The three main symptoms associated with PCOS are irregular periods, high levels of the male hormone (androgen) and the presence of cysts in the ovaries. Two or three of these symptoms must be present before a woman can be diagnosed with PCOS. It affects the hormone levels of a woman causing the woman to have skipped periods and heavy bleeding, its greatest effect is on the fertility of the woman, it makes getting pregnant more difficult. PCOS also causes hair growth on the face and body, and baldness which is due to the effect of the male hormones. It not only affects fertility also causes long-term health problems like diabetes and heart disease.

What causes PCOS?

The cause of PCOS is not known. There are known risk factors such as:

  • A family history of PCOS.
  • abnormal hormone levels such as insulin and androgen in the body.
  • And Inflammation in the body.

What should I look out for to detect PCOS?

PCOS is diagnosed when three of the symptoms are present. The signs and symptoms include:

  • irregular periods.
  • heavy bleeding.
  • Excess hair growth on the face and body.
  • Acne.
  • Headaches.
  • excess male hormones.
  • Obesity.
  • Male pattern baldness.
  • Polycystic ovaries. Cysts in PCOS are sacs filled with fluid which prevents the ovaries(eggs) from maturing enough to trigger ovulation causing the major female hormones(Oestrogen, Follicle stimulating hormone, Luteinizing hormone, progesterone etc) to be lower than the male hormone(androgen).

Your doctor would need to have some blood tests, pelvic exam and an ultrasound to confirm if you have PCOS.

Treatment

There is no known cure for PCOS, however, symptoms are treated through:

  • Weight loss.
  • Adopting healthy eating habits.
  • treatment using medications such as birth control pills for symptoms such as excessive hair growth, irregular periods and fertility problems.
  • a simple surgical procedure called laparoscopic ovarian drilling (LOD) is done when fertility drugs are not effective for treatment. It involves the drilling of the ovary to destroy androgen producing tissues using heat in order to restore ovulation.

Effects of PCOS

PCOS has some long term effects such as

  • Endometrial cancer( cancer of the uterine lining).
  • Infertility.
  • Premature birth.
  • Miscarriage.
  • Diabetes.
  • Abnormal uterine bleeding.
  • Depression.

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