Sunday, April 3, 2011

What is PCOS?

The other day while I was getting a pedicure, the nail lady starts talking about how she and her boyfriend have been trying for over 3 years to get pregnant. She overshared a little information with me I'm sure but I did tell her a little about my journey. I'm not shy at all about my infertility and if someone out there has a similiar situation I like to offer support. She asked, for a lack of better words, kinda what my issue was. I told her I had PCOS and she didn't know what that was. I figured there were alot of people who don't know what it is and although I don't understand it fully myself I thought I would share some information about it.

PCOS, also known as Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, is exactly like it sounds. I have many tiny cysts all over my ovaries. The cause of PCOS is not fully understood but genetics could play a factor. Betsy has a 50% chance of developing it. PCOS is a problem in which a woman's hormones are out of balance. It causes problems with periods and makes it difficult to get pregnant. Over time it could lead to serious health problems such as diabetes and heart disease. Polycystic ovary syndrome is fairly common, affecting as many as 1 out of 15 women.

For reasons that are not well understood, in PCOS the hormones get out of balance. One hormone change triggers another, which changes another. For example: The sex hormones get out of balance. Normally, the ovaries make a tiny amount of male sex hormones (androgens). In PCOS, they start making slightly more androgens. This may cause you to stop ovulating, get acne, and grow extra facial and body hair. I have all of these issues except extra facial and body hair. Thank goodness. As if it wasn't bad enough lets give you a mustache too. Blah.

So what are the symptoms of PCOS?
* Acne. Even some prescription acne medication doesn't always help.
* Weight gain and trouble losing weight. It is very difficult for us to lose weight because of the insulin resistance.
* Extra hair on the face and body.
* Thinning hair on the scalp. (I don't have this issue either)
* Irregular periods. Often women with PCOS have fewer than nine periods a year. Some women have no periods. Others have very heavy bleeding.
* Fertility problems.
* Depression.

Most women with PCOS grow many small cysts on their ovaries. That is why it is called polycystic ovary syndrome. The cysts are not harmful but lead to hormone imbalances.

I was diagnosed with PCOS after one year of trying to get pregnant. It really hasn't caused any problems with me besides the difficulty losing weight and of course the infertility. I have always had regular blood pressure and cholesterol levels which is good.

How to treat PCOS:
Regular exercise, healthy foods, and weight control are key treatments for PCOS. Medicines to balance hormones may also be used. Getting treatment can reduce unpleasant symptoms and help prevent long-term health problems.

How it messes with my fertility:
When the hormones that trigger ovulation are not at the right levels, the ovary does not release an egg every month. And even when an egg is released, most of the time it is blocked and/or affected by a cyst.

So there you have life with PCOS. Sucky, huh?


The Brown's said...

I have PCOS too! That is why it took me over 2 1/2 years to get pregnant with Max. I have all the typical symtoms but thank goodness I don't have hair issues either!

Samual said...

Great Blog. Its really interesting and useful for all to know about this problem. Sufferers can have all or only some of these symptoms and many don’t even realise they have the condition until they try to have children.

Polycystic ovarian disorder