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PCOS 300x2000Irregular periods. Infertility. Pelvic pain. Weight gain. Excess facial and body hair. All of these can be symptoms of a condition that affects one in ten women of childbearing age.

Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) causes an overproduction of the male hormone androgen. This makes the ovaries develop small follicles that fail to release an egg.  It can cause irregular periods with only 8 or 9 a year instead of a monthly cycle, and that makes it difficult to become pregnant.

When menstruating you may experience more pain and heavy bleeding that continues longer than usual and the growth of cysts in the ovary can cause pain and discomfort when you’re not on your period.

There’s a cascading effect of symptoms too, because the hormone imbalance can lead to added weight that’s difficult to lose and that can create health issues like insulin resistance.

The hormone imbalance from PCOS can also cause physical changes such as severe acne, excess facial and body hair and even baldness. Skin in the neck and groin area and underneath the breast may also darken.

What’s causing this? Excess insulin production can raise the levels of androgen and lead to PCOS. Genetics may also play a role because if any of your family members has PCOS there is a greater chance that you will develop it.

Your doctor can diagnose PCOS by checking blood pressure, weight and body mass index and completing a pelvic exam. You may also take a blood test to check for androgen levels or have a pelvic ultrasound to rule out cysts.

Treatment of PCOS usually begins with lifestyle changes. This can mean switching to a low carbohydrate diet and getting at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise each day to reduce weight and better control PCOS.

You may also use hormonal pills, patches or vaginal rings to manage your estrogen and progesterone levels to help regulate ovulation and control the symptoms of PCOS. Drugs that can improve insulin levels may also help to control blood sugar and weight and restore the normal menstrual cycle.

Northline Women's Health Center Locations:

15675 Northline Road

Southgate, MI 48195

(734) 282-3600
(734) 282-3603 - Fax

23050 West Road, Suite 210

Brownstown Twp., MI 48183

(734) 362-7000
(734) 362-7077 - Fax