What Are Polycystic Ovaries?
What Are Polycystic Ovaries?
The human body is a delicate system of paths, nooks and crannies, and the female anatomy is just as intricate. The female reproductive system is a maze of fallopian tubes, a uterus and two ovaries, among other complex organs. With all the moving parts, sometimes not everything runs as smoothly as it should. For example, some women deal with polycystic ovaries.
Your doctor can tell you all about polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), but keep reading to learn more about its symptoms and factors that may affect your susceptibility to it. Also, if you’ve already been diagnosed with abnormal uterine bleeding (AUB), does PCOS have anything to do with it? (Remember, AUB is any bleeding that differs from your normal cycle — whether in amount, how often, timing, such as between your regular periods, or after menopause.)
PCOS is a condition where the ovaries produce follicles, which are small bubbles of fluid, leading to enlarged ovaries.1 Ovaries may become polycystic when they are triggered to overproduce androgen, which may create an imbalance between the hormones responsible for ovulation. This may result in anovulatory cycles or irregular menstrual periods.2
Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) impacts as many as 10 percent of women who are of reproductive age.2 This is a common cause of infertility in women, according to the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG).3
While the exact symptoms that women may experience with PCOS varies, generally recognized symptoms may include the following:3
- Irregular ovulation or menstruation
- Male pattern hair growth
- Acne and oily skin
The risk factors and causes for PCOS are not fully understood, but it seems like the condition is hereditary, meaning if your mother or sister has it, you may be more likely to have it, too. Insulin seems to be a cause of polycystic ovaries, as well. Insulin resistance, or when your pancreas produces too much of it to provide glucose to your cells, may cause the ovaries to increase production of androgen. Then, the androgen may interfere with ovulation.4
Is PCOS Associated with AUB?
Abnormal uterine bleeding associated with PCOS is typically a result of irregular ovulation.5 This happens because the uterine lining thickens as a result of the estrogen that builds up leading to ovulation, but is not tempered by the production of progesterone after the ovary releases a mature egg. Menses is triggered to occur after an egg is not fertilized, but when no egg is released in a cycle, normal menstruation may be interrupted.
There is no cure for PCOS, though the condition may be managed in a few ways, namely in how to monitor your insulin levels.6
- Nutrition modifications. Try limiting the amount of carbohydrates and sugar in your meal plans in order to balance blood glucose levels that are commonly found in excess in women with PCOS.7
- Weight management. Regular exercise and a healthy diet may improve PCOS symptoms. Likewise, losing weight may reduce blood sugar levels and improve insulin sensitivity, which supports normal hormone function.
- Regular exercise may lower insulin levels, thus helping weight loss efforts. Additionally, exercising right after a large meal may regulate insulin levels. Women with PCOS should aim to exercise five days a week for 60 minutes each day.7
You should always consult your doctor if you think you may have or be at risk of PCOS or AUB. He or she can prescribe the best methods to help you feel your best.
- Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), Overview.” Mayo Clinic. July 26, 2017. http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/pcos/home/ovc-20342146.
- Polycystic ovary syndrome.” Office on Women’s Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. January 5, 2016. https://www.womenshealth.gov/publications/our-publications/fact-sheet/polycystic-ovary-syndrome.html#sources
- Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS).” The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. March 2015. http://www.acog.org/Patients/FAQs/Polycystic-Ovary-Syndrome-PCOS.
- Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), Symptoms and causes.” Mayo Clinic. July 26, 2017. http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/pcos/symptoms-causes/dxc-20342150
- Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS).” University of California, Los Angeles. http://obgyn.ucla.edu/body.cfm?id=330&fr=true
- Is There A Cure For PCOS?” PCOS Awareness Association. http://www.pcosaa.org/is-there-a-cure-for-pcos/
- PCOS: Nutrition Basics” Center for Young Women’s Health, Division of Adolescent and Young Adult Medicine and the Division of Gynecology at Boston Children’s Hospital. February 25, 2016. http://youngwomenshealth.org/2013/12/12/pcos-nutrition/ Abnormal Uterine Bleeding.” Cleveland Clinic. May 12, 2014. http://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/abnormal-uterine-bleeding.
- Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), Overview.” Mayo Clinic. July 26, 2017. http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/pcos/home/ovc-20342146
- Posted by Dot.
- On February 15, 2018