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Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, better known as PCOS, is an endocrine system disorder that impacts women in their childbearing years. It can cause the enlarging of the ovaries due to small pockets of fluid within them. It impacts between five and ten percent of all women. Around 7 million women in the United States suffer from Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome today, according to the PCOS Awareness Association.
The symptoms of PCOS can, in some cases, be similar to those experienced during a menstrual cycle. For this reason, many women who suffer from PCOS are actually not aware of it. The most common symptoms are sporadic menstrual periods, very long menstrual periods, male pattern hair thinning or hair loss, acne, and significant weight gain. However, PCOS can impact each woman in a different way. Some women may experience only a few of these symptoms while others suffer from all of them.
Because the cause of Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome is not currently known, it may be difficult to predict who will get it. Heredity does appear to play a role. Women who already have close family members with PCOS are more likely to get it themselves. Women who suffer from hormone imbalances - specifically, a high level of androgens - may be at higher risk. Insulin hormones may also play a role. Excess insulin may cause a higher level of androgens, and this, in turn, leads to the higher PCOS risk.
The treatment for Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome can depend on, in part, upon the specific concerns of the patient. For example, many women who suffer from PCOS are concerned with improving fertility or with losing extra weight. Lifestyle changes, such as a healthy diet and new exercise plan, can help the patient lose enough weight to help control symptoms. The doctor may prescribe medicine to help restore a regular menstrual cycle, something that birth control pills can often do very effectively. Other drugs, for example, Metformin, can help control insulin levels in diabetic PCOS patients.
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