PCOS – The “Silent Killer”
Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is also known as Stein-Leventhal Syndrome. It mostly affects women of reproductive age and is the leading cause of female infertility. One in 10 women have PCOS, making it the most common endocrine disorder.
PCOS has many signs — things you or your doctor can see or measure — and symptoms — things that you notice or feel. All of these can worsen with obesity. Every woman with PCOS may be affected a little differently.
To be diagnosed with PCOS, your doctor looks for at least two of the following:
- Irregular periods. This is the most common characteristic. Examples include menstrual intervals longer than 35 days; fewer than eight menstrual cycles a year; failure to menstruate for four months or longer; and prolonged periods that may be scant or heavy.
- Excess androgen. Elevated levels of male hormones (androgens) may result in physical signs, such as excess facial and body hair (hirsutism), adult acne or severe adolescent acne, and male-pattern baldness (androgenic alopecia).
- Polycystic ovaries. Polycystic ovaries become enlarged and contain numerous small fluid-filled sacs which surround the eggs.
Women with PCOS may have enlarged ovaries that contain small collections of fluid — called follicles — located in each ovary.
Infrequent or prolonged menstrual periods, excess hair growth, acne and obesity can all occur in women with polycystic ovary syndrome. In adolescents, infrequent or absent menstruation may raise suspicion for the condition.
When to see a doctor
See your doctor if you have concerns about your menstrual periods, if you’re experiencing infertility or if you have signs of androgen excess such as acne and male-pattern hair growth.*
The exact cause of polycystic ovary syndrome is unknown. Early diagnosis and treatment, along with weight loss, may reduce the risk of long-term complications, such as insulin resistance, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
Polycystic ovary syndrome signs and symptoms often begin soon after a woman first begins having periods (menarche). In some cases, PCOS develops later during the reproductive years, for instance, in response to substantial weight gain.
PCOS IS A SERIOUS CONDITION. DON’T DELAY. CALL US IN SAN ANTONIO FOR A CHECK UP: (210) 541-5979
Click here to download the PCOS Foundation brochure.