Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is among the more common gynecological concerns for adult women. According to estimates from the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), PCOS affects about 15% of all women in the US. Though despite how common it is, many women may not know very much about this condition and the effects it can have. PCOS occurs when a woman experiences an excess of male hormones known as androgens that causes a hormone imbalance. The condition can cause issues related to menstruation and fertility, and potentially lead to long-term health problems like diabetes and heart disease if left untreated. Since we believe strongly in the importance of early diagnosis of gynecological conditions, we wanted to educate our readers by discussing how PCOS is diagnosed and treated in women.
The first step in diagnosing polycystic ovary syndrome is discussing your symptoms and medical history, including any issues with your menstrual periods or weight fluctuation you have experienced. Although there is no definitive test for PCOS, we can screen for it in a few different ways. A pelvic exam can be performed to check for ovarian enlargement. In some cases, a blood test is done to analyze hormone levels. For some women, performing an ultrasound can be an effective way to check on the appearance of the ovaries and the thickness of the uterine lining.
Once a woman is diagnosed with PCOS, there are different ways we may approaching treating her condition. Treating PCOS can focus on managing individual symptoms such as infertility, acne, or obesity. Sometimes simple lifestyle changes can make a difference. For example, maintaining a healthier diet and exercising are highly recommended and can often help women with PCOS. Even a modest reduction in bodyweight or body mass index (BMI) can prove beneficial.
Medications can also be used to help women with PCOS manage their symptoms. Birth control pills that contain estrogen and progestin can restore a normal hormone balance, regulate ovulation, and relieve certain PCOS symptoms like excess hair growth. Other hormone-balancing medications like anti-androgen pills or insulin-sensitizing drugs may also be of assistance. For women with PCOS who are trying to become pregnant and do not want to take birth control, medications used to induce ovulation or surgery can potentially help.
Every woman is different and finding the right treatment plan for you depends entirely on your specific symptoms and preferences. However, the earlier PCOS is diagnosed, the more treatment options will likely be available to you. Our board-certified gynecologists have extensive experience diagnosing and treating PCOS and will work with you to create the best-possible treatment plan for your needs. For more information on this condition or to request an appointment today with board-certified gynecologist Dr. Kristine Gould or any of our other providers, please contact Gynecology Associates of Gwinnett. Don’t forget to follow us on Facebook and Twitter for more news, tips, and details on our upcoming health & wellness events.