Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome
Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) is a heterogeneous metabolic disorder that occurs when too many male hormones are present in the female body.
Since the female body actually creates male hormones as well as female hormones, polycystic ovarian syndrome occurs when the balance is tipped in favor of male hormones.
Signs of PCOS
Signs of polycystic ovarian syndrome can sometimes be detected as early as the age of eight. When girls at the age of eight begin to exhibit signs of puberty, such as the growth of public hair or the onset of menstruation, a red flag should automatically go up. Polycystic ovarian syndrome can cause serious health issues. Girls who exhibit early signs of menstruation should visit their physician for a complete physical and diagnosis.
While the cause of PCOS is unknown and to date there is no single symptom that occurs in young girls that points toward an unquestionable diagnosis of polycystic ovarian syndrome, there are several signs that usually indicate polycystic ovarian syndrome is a possibility.
Because symptoms tend to vary from patient to patient making a diagnosis is difficult, but when irregular periods, acne, obesity and hyperandrogenism occur simultaneously in a female patient, polycystic ovarian syndrome is often the cause.
Signs to look for in females of all ages include:
- Early onset of puberty and/or signs of puberty at an early age.
- Irregular periods
- Abnormal hair growth, such as facial hair.
- Abnormal bleeding from the uterus
- Metabolic disease (diabetes)
- Cardiovascular disease (heart disease, high blood pressure)
Treatments for PCOS
Though there is no known cure for polycystic ovarian syndrome, there are methods of treating polycystic ovarian syndrome that include medication and lifestyle changes.
One of the first changes a polycystic ovarian syndrome patient can incorporate into her life is a healthy diet.
Diet and Lifestyle Changes
Because polycystic ovarian syndrome can cause obesity, it is important that patients follow a healthy diet and incorporate an exercise program into their life. Keeping weight at a healthy minimum will help keep other weight related diseases at bay.
One such disease is diabetes. Diabetes is associated both with obesity and with polycystic ovarian syndrome. When a healthy weight is maintained, obesity is not as much of a concern, which means the chances of developing diabetes is lowered.
Metformin and PCOS
Metformin goes hand-in-hand for patients who have polycystic ovarian syndrome, aswell as PCOS patients who have developed diabetes or who are at risk of developing diabetes.
Though metformin has not been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for use as a treatment in polycystic ovarian syndrome, it is typically used on PCOS patients due to its ability to drop both blood glucose and its ability to lower testosterone production, as well as control early or borderline diabetes.
Studies have proven that metformin also slows abnormal hair growth, decreases body mass, and improves cholesterol numbers. Another amazing side effect of metformin has to do with ovulation. Researchers note that after using metformin for several months patients experience a return of ovulation.