What is Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome?
Did you know Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) is one of the most frequent causes of infertility among women?
It can also cause irregular periods or even no period at all.
If that’s not worse, enough PCOS can even cause you to grow hair in unexpected places like around your nipples, belly and face.
Polycystic ovary syndrome is a common hormonal imbalance that disrupts your reproductive pathways and egg production.
PCOS is a disease that causes the formation of multiple cysts or sacs of fluid in your ovaries. In addition to cysts on your ovaries, PCOS also promotes excessive insulin production which causes your body to produce excessive male hormones (or androgens). That’s why women with polycystic ovary syndrome develop male-like characteristics like excessive hair growth, male pattern baldness, an enlarged clitoris, a lower voice and even a decrease in breast size.
Polycystic ovary syndrome is most common among women in their 20’s or 30’s, but it can occur in girls as young as 11 years old. Many women do not realize they have the disorder until they start trying to conceive or experience symptoms.
The excessive male hormones your body suppresses egg development which makes it difficult to get pregnant and have regular periods. If you have PCOS, your times can fluctuate between really light to heavy – or no menstrual period at all.
According to The US Office of Women’s Health, as many as 5 million women suffer from Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome.
How Polycystic Ovary Syndrome Affects Your Ovaries
Your ovaries produce many eggs in small fluid-filled sacs called ovarian follicles. During ovulation, your body releases the hormone progesterone and causes the most dominant egg to be released. The other eggs shrivel back down into the ovary.
When you have PCOS the hormone that triggers ovulation isn’t released and the fluid that builds up in the ovarian follicles, the small eggs, become cysts and ovulation does not occur.
What Causes PCOS?
The exact cause of Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome is unknown. However, experts believe several factors play a role.
Factors of Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome:
- Excess blood glucose levels or insulin, commonly associated with diabetes.
- Heredity, most women with PCOS, have a mother or sister with PCOS.
- Hormone Imbalance, including low levels of estrogen and progesterone and increased levels of androgen
- Low-grade inflammation which leads to insulin resistance and cholesterol build up which can lead to cardiovascular disease
- Abnormal fetal development or excessive exposure to male hormones during fetal development.
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