Acne…. Irregular Periods…. Mood Swings…. What’s Going On?!
…It Might be PCOS
What is PCOS?
Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) is thought to be one of the most common endocrine conditions affecting women. PCOS is a condition that can vary widely from woman to woman and may have multiple different clinical presentations. Not every woman will experience the same symptoms or have the same experience with PCOS. Some key features of PCOS are decreased or absent ovulation causing irregular periods, excess testosterone (a hormone) and cysts on the ovaries visible during a pelvic ultrasound.
Some common symptoms include:
- Irregular periods (no periods or frequent periods)
- Male-pattern hair growth, especially on the face (Hirsutism)
- Ovarian cysts or pelvic pain
A diagnosis can be made by a provider with some information on clinical symptoms, labs and possibly a pelvic ultrasound.
The good news is there are multiple ways to approach management options for PCOS. Goals of therapy are personalized to each women and may differ depending on symptoms, long-term goals, other health problems and if she wants to become pregnant or not.
Diet and exercise for weight reduction is the first step for women who are overweight. Weight reduction can help normalize hormones and regulate periods. Diet and exercise are also important for hormonal regulation in women who are not overweight.
Women with polycystic ovarian syndrome are at an increased risk for cardiovascular disease, diabetes, insulin resistance, dyslipidemia (high cholesterol) and sleep apnea. By addressing PCOS as early as possible a patient can significantly reduce these risks.
Talking with a provider about specific goals will determine the best approach for patient.
Moods and PCOS
It is common for women to experience mood swing, anxiety or depressive symptoms with PCOS. There is some evidence that women with PCOS are more likely to have mood disorders when comes to women without PCOS. We encourage our patients to share all of their symptoms even if they do not feel like it is related to the reason that they are seeking care, like irregular periods.
Check back for a post specifically dedicated to discussing Fertility, Pregnancy and PCOS
American Collage of Obstetrics & Gynecology
Up To Date: Clinical Manifestations of Polycystic Ovary Syndrome in Adults