PCOS: What you need to know
Polycystic ovary syndrome, most commonly known as PCOS, is a condition that arises as a result of dysfunction within the endocrine system that impacts somewhere between 8-21% of women. PCOS has the capacity to impact not only your fertility, but also your mental health, self-esteem, general health, and in turn, your athletic performance.
The hormonal condition generally influences the regularity of menstrual periods and ovulation while raising androgen levels. Since abnormal cycles are the reason why women with PCOS may have problems with their fertility, this chronic disorder is liable for almost 70% of infertility cases where anovulation is concerned. Considering this, an early diagnosis and medical treatment is crucial to protecting the health and wellbeing of those diagnosed.
What are the causes of PCOS?
While there is currently no sole cause of the disorder, there are a number of factors that potentially contribute to stimulating the condition. These factors include:
- Elevated insulin and/or insulin resistance
- Excessive androgen levels
What are the symptoms of PCOS?
When on the lookout for PCOS symptoms, there are an array of things to keep an eye out for. These symptoms may include the following:
- Infrequent menstruation and ovulation
- Hirsutism (excessive hair growth especially on the abdomen, back, chest, thighs, and face)
- Acne and oily skin, which can be caused by excessive androgen levels
- Weight gain, which impacts around 80% of those with PCOS
- Patches of dark, thickened skin known as acanthosis nigricans
- Fluid filled cysts on the ovaries (evident through medical imaging, often a transvaginal ultrasound)
How is PCOS diagnosed?
Achieving a diagnosis of PCOS can be challenging to reach, leaving an estimated 70% of people with the condition undiagnosed and without treatment or intervention.
In the case you are showing symptoms, we encourage you to see a medical professional who can explore your circumstances further. As a general rule, a diagnosis can be reached when at least two of the following symptoms are present:
- Irregular periods – menstruation may either occur too frequently or sparsely where bleeding may be prolonged or minimal.
- High androgen levels – elevation of this hormone can induce symptoms such as acne, oily skin, and hirsutism.
- Polycystic ovaries – the ovaries may be enlarged and/or bordered by clusters of follicles, obstructing the function of the organ.
How is PCOS treated?
To manage PCOS and reduce the symptoms, there’s a range of things that can be implemented which could assist in the matter. Some ways you may improve your PCOS symptoms may include the following:
- Accessing professional medical care for symptom reduction and ongoing management
- Consistent compliance with medication (where applicable)
- Improvement of mental wellbeing
- Incorporating nutritious foods into your diet
- Exercising regularly
- Balancing blood sugar levels
- Ovulation and menstrual cycle tracking
If you are experiencing symptoms of PCOS and it’s impacting your day-to-day life, training, mental function and general wellbeing, we encourage you to seek medical assistance.
When should I seek medical advice about PCOS?
If you have concerns about PCOS impacting your life and athletic performance, we encourage you to get in touch with us. We have a network of specialised General Practitioners, gynaecologists and fertility specialists across Australia who will be more than happy to speak with you and discuss your individual circumstances.
With over 50 dedicated specialists across 70 consulting locations throughout the country, our friendly staff can help you choose the right medical professional to guide you and help you achieve your sporting goals. Contact us now.