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Polycystic ovary syndrome

By Dr. Jesús Alberto Félix Atondo

One of the most treated female problems in infertility clinics and gynecology offices is Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) or Stein Leventhal syndrome. It is one of the most common causes of menstrual disturbances and difficulty getting pregnant.

Today we will tell you what Polycystic Ovary Syndrome is, its causes, the impact on female health and fertility, and the most common treatments. Let’s get started!
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What is the ovary polycystic syndrome?

The female ovaries have follicles, which are tiny sacs that contain eggs, which are released when they mature and are taken up by the fallopian tube where they can meet a sperm for fertilization and travel to the uterus to implant. However, when you have PCOS, the immature eggs clump together and form large lumps or cysts that prevent their release and fertilization.

A more technical definition of Polycystic Ovary Syndrome is: a hormonal imbalance that makes it difficult to release the oocytes, causing the ovules to become encapsulated in liquid and trapped inside the ovary. Therefore, it is a condition that affects reproductive capacity in women of all ages, and is especially harmful in young women.

It is estimated that 10% of the female population of reproductive age suffers from PCOS, especially affecting women between the ages of 20 and 30, although it can also occur in adolescents.
 

Causes

  • Genetics. It is very common for PCOS to develop in many women in the same family, and the probability that a woman will suffer from it increases if her mother suffers from the condition.
  • Imbalance in female sex hormones. Changes in estrogens and/or progesterone production.
  • Male hormones. The presence of androgen hormones is normal in the female body, but in PCOS there is an imbalance.

 

Symptoms

  • Changes in the menstrual cycle. Either very irregular cycles, which occur at any time of the month with a very light flow, or the interruption of the menstrual cycle after having had normal periods during adolescence and part of adult life. Sometimes there is also very abundant flow and periods longer than normal.
  • Masculine characteristics. Increased body hair is common in women with PCOS, who may have hair on their chin, chest, back, abdomen, and around the nipples. It is also common to have a deep voice and reduced breast size.
  • Dermatological alterations. Acne on the back, face or chest, dark spots on the skin, skin folds around the groin, neck, breasts or armpits.
  • Metabolic alterations. Weight gain for no apparent reason, high cholesterol, hypertension, fatty liver, insulin resistance, and diabetes.

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Diagnosis

If your menstrual period is irregular and you suffer from any of the symptoms mentioned, you should visit your doctor for a PCOS diagnosis. In the first instance, the specialist for this condition is the gynecologist, who will analyze your medical history to find out if there is a family history. Subsequently, an ultrasound could be indicated to visualize the uterus state and a pelvic exam to feel the ovaries.

It is also very important to carry out blood tests to detect related diseases, such as diabetes, and to check the levels of estrogen, progesterone, testosterone and other hormones called follicle stimulating and luteinizing.

Before starting a specific treatment for PCOS, it is likely that the doctor will seek to control the derived diseases: diabetes, cholesterol, hypertension, irregular menstrual periods, among others. In many cases, symptoms such as irregular hair growth and acne improve with these changes.
 

The diet role in PCOS

Since it is very common for women with PCOS to suffer from overweight and metabolic disorders, in addition to medical treatment, a change in diet is recommended in order to have a better quality of life, reduce symptoms and lose weight, as well as to increase success chances in fertility treatments.

High Body Mass Indexes (BMI) are usually related to worse polycystic ovarian syndrome conditions, lower chances of success in fertility treatments and, in the event of achieving a pregnancy, they are associated with the risk of gestational diabetes.

Weight loss as a result of a change in eating habits and sports practice has great advantages in PCOS, as well as in the patient´s quality of life.
 

Polycystic Ovary Syndrome Treatment

Hormonal alterations are usually treated with hormonal contraceptives, but when this or other treatments and changes in lifestyle have not worked, surgery is considered, with laparoscopy being the most used technique as it is an outpatient treatment and has high success rates.

It´s important to know that the treatments for PCOS do not always guarantee a pregnancy naturally since this condition´s main characteristic is anovulation, so the most common recommendation to achieve pregnancy is In Vitro Fertilization, which has high success rates.

If you suffer from Polycystic Ovary Syndrome you should know that you are not alone and that this condition is not an impediment to having children nor does it have to severely affect your life. At The Fertility Center we are a comprehensive care clinic and we have specialists in fertility, gynecology, maternal fetal care, fertility treatments and assisted reproduction, among others.

Come to us, schedule your appointment through the means available on the website and let us help you fulfill your dream of being a mother.
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Dr. Jesús Alberto Félix Atondo

Gynecology, Obstetrics and Biology of Human Reproduction Surgeon at the Autonomous University of Guadalajara, specialist Biologist of Human Reproduction by the Mexican Institute of Infertility.

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