What is polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)?
Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a hormonal disorder that’s fairly common in women of childbearing age. If you have PCOS, you may have infrequent menstrual periods, menstrual periods that last longer than usual, and excessive or higher than normal levels of the male hormone (androgen). Your ovaries may also develop numerous dysfunctional, fluid-filled sacs (cysts). PCOS is frequently the cause of female infertility.
What are the symptoms of PCOS?
PCOS usually develops around the time of your first menstrual period but can also develop later in life and often in response to significant weight gain.
The symptoms often vary greatly from one woman to the next but typical issues that may indicate PCOS include:
- Irregular and overall infrequent periods (less than 9 a year), which is the most common symptom of PCOS
- Elevated levels of androgen (male hormone) resulting in excess facial and body hair (hirsutism), moderate to severe acne, and male-pattern baldness with a receding hairline
- Enlarged ovaries that contain numerous small cysts and fail to produce viable eggs regularly
- Obesity and difficulty losing weight
- Difficulty becoming pregnant
What are the complications of PCOS?
Complications associated with untreated PCOS are often significant and can include:
- Diabetes and high blood pressure during pregnancy
- Miscarriage or premature birth
- Severe inflammation of the liver caused by fat accumulation
- A cluster of conditions that increase your risk of developing heart disease, known as metabolic syndrome, that typically includes high blood pressure, elevated blood sugar, and abnormal cholesterol or triglyceride levels
- Type 2 diabetes
- Sleep apnea, depression, anxiety, and eating disorders
- Increased risk of endometrial cancer (uterine lining) due to infrequent menstrual periods
What is the treatment for PCOS?
Treatment for PCOS typically focuses on managing the symptoms and concerns that come along with it, such as infertility.
Dr. Pattamakom may recommend medications such as combination birth control pills containing estrogen and progestin to decrease androgen production and regulate estrogen. This can help lower your risk of endometrial cancer and correct abnormal menstrual bleeding, excess hair growth, and acne breakouts. If you’re having difficulty getting pregnant, she might also prescribe clomiphene (Clomid) to help you ovulate or letrozole (Femara) to stimulate your ovaries.
If you’d like detailed information about PCOS and which treatments might work for your symptoms, call today to make an appointment with Dr. Pattamakom or use her online scheduling service to book your visit.
What is an ovarian cyst?
Ovarian cysts are solid or fluid-filled pockets that develop in or on your ovaries. Most often ovarian cysts are painless and essentially harmless. Many women develop a cyst as part of their menstrual cycle without realizing it. They typically resolve on their own within a couple of months without treatment. Sometimes, however, an ovarian cyst can continue to enlarge and eventually rupture and cause internal bleeding or cause the affected ovary to twist painfully out of its location next to your uterus.
What are the symptoms of an ovarian cyst?
An enlarging ovarian cyst can cause:
- Dull or sharp pain in the lower abdomen on the same side as the cyst
- A sensation of fullness or heaviness in your abdomen
A cyst that’s ruptured or twisted requires immediate medical attention and may cause:
- Sudden and very severe abdominal or pelvic pain
- Pain accompanied by fever or vomiting
- Symptoms of shock, such as clammy skin, rapid breathing, and lightheadedness or weakness
Are there different kinds of ovarian cysts?
Yes. Most ovarian cysts are related to your menstrual cycle and are called functional cysts. These types of cysts rarely cause symptoms and typically fade on their own. They can include:
- Follicular cysts that develop when the follicle in your ovary that’s responsible for releasing that month’s egg doesn’t and instead continues to grow
- Corpus luteum cysts occur when fluid accumulates within a follicle after it has released its egg and the corpus luteum, which normally produces estrogen and progesterone for conception, continues to grow
- Ovarian cysts not related to your normal menstrual function can grow quite large and include dermoid cysts, cystadenomas, and endometriomas
What is the treatment for ovarian cysts?
If your cyst is small and not causing significant symptoms, Dr. Pattamakom may recommend watchful waiting or treatment with birth control pills to prevent other cysts from forming. If the cyst is large, doesn’t appear to be a functional cyst, or causes pain, she may recommend surgery to remove the cyst and spare the ovary if possible.
For gynecological care that’s patient-focused and tailored to meet your needs, call to make an appointment with Dr. Pattamakom or use her convenient online scheduling service.