Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a hormonal imbalance in females that can disrupt the menstrual cycle or make it more difficult to become pregnant. While PCOS most typically occurs in young women shortly after their first period, it may also appear later in life. Left untreated, PCOS can eventually lead to the onset of serious medical issues such as heart disease, obesity and diabetes.
PCOS can produce a wide range of symptoms. Some of the more common signs of PCOS include:
While there is no specific cause of PCOS, there are a number of contributing factors that can lead to its onset:
You should seek treatment if you experience irregular vaginal bleeding or begin to bleed more than normal during menstruation. You should also consider seeing a doctor if your menstrual cycle is normal but you have been unsuccessful in becoming pregnant for at least one year. Other times when medical attention may be necessary are when you experience symptoms of diabetes such as blurred vision, tingling in the hands or feet or frequent urination, or if you notice abnormal hair growth.
PCOS can be fairly difficult to diagnose. The diagnostic process usually involves a complete assessment of possible PCOS symptoms and your medical history in an effort to rule out other possible conditions. Your doctor will likely perform a series of tests that may include a complete physical exam, blood tests, pelvic exam and/or an ultrasound exam of your ovaries and uterus.
Upon diagnosis, your doctor may recommend treatment methods such as lifestyle changes involving dietary and exercise habits, as well as taking medication to help you ovulate, regulate your menstrual cycle and reduce excessive hair growth.
Contact UPMC in Central Pa. to learn more about PCOS symptoms and possible treatment alternatives.
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