Getting your monthly period can be challenging enough. But, when you can’t even predict when you’re going to get it or when you do get it, it’s very heavy, it is even more challenging. Irregular and heavy periods are symptoms of polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS).
PCOS is a common condition affecting one in 10 women of childbearing age. It’s one of the most common causes of infertility, but the condition can have many adverse health effects in addition to infertility. Board-certified OB/GYN A. Michael Coppa, MD, explains what you need to know about PCOS and how to treat it.
What is PCOS?
PCOS is a condition related to hormonal imbalance. Women with PCOS have higher than average levels of male hormones.
PCOS can develop in women any time after puberty but is most commonly diagnosed in women in their 20s and 30s usually when they have trouble getting pregnant. The exact cause of PCOS is unknown, but obesity and family history can increase your risk of developing this condition.
PCOS signs and symptoms
There is no one test to diagnose PCOS. Women with at least two of the following symptoms, however, are usually diagnosed:
- Irregular menstrual cycles
- High levels of the male hormone androgen
- Cysts, also called fluid-filled sacs, on one or both ovaries
Other signs and symptoms include:
- Excess facial and body hair
- Male pattern baldness
- Pelvic pain
Because of irregular periods and complications with ovaries, PCOS is one of the most common issues related to infertility. But there are more health issues connected to PCOS that you should be aware of. These include:
- Pregnancy complications such as gestational diabetes or preterm birth
- Metabolic syndrome
- Type 2 diabetes
- Sleep apnea
- Depression and anxiety
- Endometrial cancer
PCOS treatment options
Dr. Coppa develops a personalized treatment plan to help resolve your PCOS symptoms and health complications effectively. Depending on your symptoms, he may recommend one or more of the following treatment options:
Losing even just five to 10 % of your body weight can help reduce PCOS symptoms. Losing weight can also help with fertility issues.
Hormone medications such as birth control pills or progestin therapy can help regulate your period. Additionally, combination birth control pills can help lower your levels of androgen, helping improve your appearance by reducing excess facial hair. Plus, progestin-only pills protect against endometrial cancer.
Medications to help you get pregnant
If you want to get pregnant, medications such as Clomid, Metformin, Letrozole, and Gonadotropins can help induce ovulation. Surgery and in vitro fertilization can help if other methods fail.
If you think you may have PCOS, call Dr. Coppa for an appointment today. You can also make an appointment online through this website.