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What Is Polycystic Ovary Syndrome and How Does It Affect Everyday Life

Adrianna Whitley

What Is Polycystic Ovary Syndrome and How Does It Affect Everyday Life  

Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) is defined by the Mayo Clinic as a hormonal disorder common among women of reproductive age (2020). This hormonal disorder can cause women to have cysts grow in their ovaries and can collect small fluids in the ovaries which causes eggs then to not release regularly. Women who have PCOS have either infrequent menstrual cycles, or they have prolonged menstrual cycles. They may also have excess levels of testosterone, also known as male hormones.  

Causes 

According to John Hopkins Medicine (2021) there is no exact cause of PCOS, but there are commonalities within women who are diagnosed with it. One of the most common factors of PCOS is that these women are insulin resistant meaning that their bodies can not use insulin well, which leads it to building up in their system and causing a higher level of male hormones. PCOS can also be hereditary and be passed down from generation to generation.  

Symptoms  

There are more symptoms with PCOS then just infrequent menstrual cycles, increase of male hormones and cysts growing. Some other symptoms that John Hopkins Medicine lists are: excess body hair, weight gain, acne or oily skin, infertility, baldness or thinning hair, excess skin on the neck or armpit also known as skin tags, and dark or thick skin patches (2021). Not every woman will have all these symptoms, but they will have a quite of few from the list. One thing to note is that not all women who have PCOS get cysts. 

How is it diagnosed 

When meeting with your health care provider they will start by asking about your medical history and the symptoms you are having. They will also do a physical exam which includes a pelvic exam to check your reproductive organs. Because PCOS has symptoms close to other diagnosis they may do an ultrasound of your ovaries to see if you have a cyst and to see the thickness of the uterine lining. Lastly, they can do a blood test and look for any high levels of hormones and blood glucose levels.  

Everyday Life 

Brady, Mousa & Mousa (2009) found that research shows both physical and health consequence that PCOS has on women. It also has an emotional impact on everyday life. PCOS can affect how women see themselves everyday and the symptoms that they face. Some of these women learn how to cope with not being able to have children due to infertility or may have an increase in miscarriages. Women who are diagnosed at a younger age find out about the concerns with infertility or the symptoms and can cause emotional distress at a young age. Weight gain is another huge everyday life factor. Women with PCOS find it harder to lose weight and keep the weight off which can cause emotional and physical problems. PCOS is very common among women so one thing to remember is that there are many resources and groups out there who can give support. 

 

 

Resources: 

Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. (2020, October 3). Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). Mayo Clinic. Retrieved September 22, 2021, from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/pcos/symptoms-causes/syc-20353439.  

Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). Johns Hopkins Medicine. (n.d.). Retrieved September 22, 2021, from https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/polycystic-ovary-syndrome-pcos#:~:text=Polycystic%20ovary%20syndrome%20(PCOS)%20is,that%20form%20in%20the%20ovaries.  

Brady, Mousa, Mousa SA.(2009). Polycystic ovary syndrome and its impact on women’s quality of life: More than just an endocrine disorder. Drug Healthc Patient Saf. 2009;1:9-15 

https://doi.org/10.2147/DHPS.S4388 

 

Photo - https://thelifestyledietitian.com/september-is-pcos-awareness-month/ 

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