Ovaries are a pair of fantastic glands the size of almonds that can lead the way for reproduction! In health class, we learned that the ovaries gently store the eggs and play an important role in our reproduction. Diagrams and pictures helped to visualize their roles, but puberty changed the real-time game plan for us as blossoming hormones took over. No one told us what to expect as our ovaries grew into womanhood. Think of your ovaries like a fragile egg carton that you want to keep safe for a lifetime.
There could be many reasons why your cycle is off balance, but one you will want to check out is PCOS. Polycystic Ovary Syndrome has a long definition that in layman’s terms means ovaries on a roller coaster! PCOS is a hormonal disorder that affects between 5% and 10% of women in the United States. According to the Department of Health and Human Services, it may affect as many as five million women in the US.
PCOS can be present at any age during a woman’s reproductive years, but is most common for women in their 20s and 30s. A 2015 article printed in The Society for Endocrinology noted that, although there is no exact cause for PCOS, some genetic and environmental factors could be at play. It states that PCOS tends to run in families in about 50% of the cases.
Other Health Problems
Womenshealth.gov notes that studies have found a link between PCOS and other health problems. More than half of women with PCOS will have diabetes or pre-diabetes by age 40. There is also a greater risk for high blood pressure and high cholesterol in women with PCOS. Depression, anxiety and sleep apnea are also common among PCOS sufferers.
PCOS symptoms are often quite different, and not all women show symptoms. It is important to track your menstrual cycle for any changes you may experience. Weight gain may also contribute to worsening symptoms. PCOS is a leading cause of infertility in women, but you can help to reduce or eliminate the symptoms. For instance, losing just 5% of excess weight could help you ovulate more regularly and lessen the severity of symptoms.
- Periods may become irregular, infrequent or may stop completely.
- Skin may become greasy or show signs of acne.
- You may have excess facial or body hair.
- You may have increased hormone levels in the blood.
- You may have ovarian cysts.
- You may feel fatigued.
A discussion with your physician is the first step in the assessment of PCOS. Since this disorder can affect you in several important health areas, be sure to document all symptoms. Your gynecologist is an excellent resource and will help guide your treatment plan. Be sure to check out resource material through the PCOS Awareness Association: www.pcosaa.org.
Don’t let PCOS keep you off the balance beam of life any longer!