Polycystic ovary syndrome affects anywhere between five to 10 percent of women so it’s a relatively common disorder. It’s mainly a syndrome so it has a number of symptoms associated with it and it’s a clinical diagnosis. Usually women present with a history of irregular periods, symptoms of excess testosterone or blood tests that show that they’re producing excessive male hormones and polycystic ovaries on ultrasound.
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One of the most common complications of polycystic ovary syndrome is infertility and an increased risk of early miscarriages. It’s important to have yourself evaluated after six to 12 months of trying to get pregnant. Unfortunately, home ovulation kits or even basal body temperatures aren’t as accurate in women with PCOS so you need to get actual formal hormonal testing and evaluations done.
So in regards to treatment, there are various options that you can consider. In women who are overweight and obese, weight loss is essential. Firstly, it can actually improve ovulation and you may not need any other treatments plus of course if you’re at higher weight pre-pregnancy, it puts you at risk of complications such as diabetes and high blood pressure during pregnancy so it’s important to pursue a healthy weight loss program.
You may be referred to a fertility clinic for further testing and treatment. The treatment options that are available first are medications that you just take for five days and these are medications that basically push the ovary to ovulate and to release the egg. If those don’t work, then of course there are hormonal, usually medications in the form of injections, that women take to basically override and induce a regular menstrual cycle. And, of course, lastly there are other options such as in vitro fertilization that can be used.
So another treatment option that’s unique to women in polycystic ovary syndrome for infertility are drugs that decrease insulin resistance such as metformin. In studies, it hasn’t been shown to be as successful as other fertility treatments, but it can be helpful in regulating your periods, helpful with a bit of weight loss and has a success rate of almost 50 percent of ovulation. So it could be considered as a treatment option either alone or in addition to other treatments. Often seeing a local family physician or a physiotherapist in conjunction with a registered dietitian and athletic therapist is a great option to take control of this condition. Smart Food Now and exercise is also optominal for overall health.
So if you have any difficulty with infertility, it’s important to see your physician and have a discussion in regards to the evaluation and treatment options.
Local Practitioners: Endocrinologist
In women with polysistic ovary syndrome, there is an increased risk of insulin resistance. Insulin is a hormone that our body normally makes to utilize sugars that we produce in our body or we get from our diet and convert that to energy. When our body is resistant to insulin, our body first compensates by making more insulin and those higher insulin levels can affect various tissues in the body causing various complications. Often seeing a local family physician or a physiotherapist in conjunction with a registered dietitian and athletic therapist is a great option to take control of this condition. Smart Food Now and exercise is also optominal for overall health.
In the ovary, it can increase male hormone production and therefore put you at risk for polycystic ovary syndrome and its associated symptoms. In the blood vessels, it can put you at risk of high blood pressure, it can affect your cholesterol levels, raising your bad cholesterol and your triglycerides and lowering your good cholesterol so all these factors potentially put you at risk of cardiovascular disease and stroke in the future.
So it’s important to see your physician and have this discussion and an evaluation to screen you for diabetes, high blood pressure, cholesterol abnormalities as well as other complications such as sleep apnea which can cause fatigue and further weight gain and to reduce those risks with changes in diet and exercise initially and even medications as needed. Presenter: Dr. Sabrina Gill, Endocrinologist, Vancouver, BC