Our Austin obgyns diagnose and treat PCOS
PCOS, or polycystic ovary syndrome, is the result of women’s adrenal glands and ovaries producing high levels of androgens, sometimes called “male” hormones. In the United States alone, we think as many as 5 million women may have this condition.
What causes PCOS?
Medical science hasn’t arrived at a consensus as to exactly what causes PCOS, but it may be caused by hereditary or environmental factors. Researchers believe that elevated insulin levels may also have a link to PCOS since many women who have PCOS also seem to have insulin-resistance, which is thought to contribute to the higher production of “male” hormones, or androgens.
Signs and symptoms of PCOS
Every woman with PCOS will experience varying symptoms, which develop as early as age 11. Some signs and symptoms you may experience include:
- Menstrual problems—irregular, infrequent periods or no periods at all
- Hirsutism—unusual or increased hair growth on the chest, stomach, back, toes, thumbs or face.
- Moderate to severe acne
- About half of all women with PCOS experience weight gain or obesity
- Hair loss
- Black or dark brown thickened patches of skin
- Ovarian cysts
- Pain in the pelvic area
- Infertility problems
Other conditions that appear to be associated with PCOS include: metabolic syndrome, Type II diabetes, sleep apnea, high blood pressure and heart disease.
There is no single, definitive test for PCOS, so it’s important to see an obgyn who has the knowledge and experience with the condition to make the correct diagnosis.
Our Austin obgyns begin the diagnostic process by taking a complete medical history, during which it is very important that you provide complete information about your periods, your family history and any physical changes you’ve experienced. Your obgyn will also perform a physical exam, including a pelvic exam, to check for signs of PCOS.
If we suspect that a patient has PCOS, we will recommend blood tests and possibly a pelvic ultrasound to look at the uterine lining to see if there is thickening and to check for ovarian cysts.
Since each woman experiences different PCOS symptoms, each woman needs an individual treatment plan. Here is a guide to the most common treatment for PCOS:
- Birth control pills—the best option is the combination birth control pill with both estrogen and progesterone because it helps with menstrual irregularities and reduction of androgens, as well as problems such as acne and hair growth. Progesterone-only pills are also an option.
- Metformin—this diabetes medication can help with PCOS symptoms.
- Weight loss and diet plan—studies show that losing as little as 10 percent of body weight can make menstrual cycles more regular.
For women who are experiencing infertility problems with PCOS, our Austin obgyns may prescribe ovulation-inducing medications such as Clomid or Letrozole.
For more information about PCOS, contact us.