Tuesday, March 31, 2009

What is PCOS?

PCOS is my recent diagnosis from my Doctor. This is the first doctor out of four that has given me a diagnosis other then "you need to lose weight". Which don't get me wrong, I do need to lose weight, but having a proper diagnosis as to why things happen to me is nice. It's what I suspected, and the upside is it is still possible to have a baby, even tho it will be more difficult for me to become pregnant.
I've gathered the following information from http://www.womenshealth.gov/.
What causes polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)?
The cause of PCOS is unknown. Most researchers think that more than one factor could play a role in developing PCOS. Genes are thought to be one factor. Women with PCOS tend to have a mother or sister with PCOS. Researchers also think insulin could be linked to PCOS. Insulin is a hormone that controls the change of sugar, starches, and other food into energy for the body to use or store. For many women with PCOS, their bodies have problems using insulin so that too much insulin is in the body. Excess insulin appears to increase production of androgen. This hormone is made in fat cells, the ovaries, and the adrenal gland. Levels of androgen that are higher than normal can lead to acne, excessive hair growth, weight gain, and problems with ovulation.

What are the symptoms of polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)?
Not all women with PCOS share the same symptoms. These are some of the symptoms of PCOS: I've marked if I have the symptoms in orange :)
  • infrequent menstrual periods, no menstrual periods, and/or irregular bleeding (this is a major problem for me)
  • infertility (not able to get pregnant) because of not ovulating (maybe)
  • increased hair growth on the face, chest, stomach, back, thumbs, or toes—a condition called hirsutism (HER-suh-tiz-um) (no)
  • ovarian cysts (most likely)
  • acne, oily skin, or dandruff (no)
  • weight gain or obesity, usually carrying extra weight around the waist
    insulin resistance or type 2 diabetes (big yes, i can look at food and gain weight)
  • high cholesterol (no)
  • high blood pressure (no)
  • male-pattern baldness or thinning hair (no)
  • skin tags, or tiny excess flaps of skin in the armpits or neck area pelvic (i get small skin tags, but always thought it was hereditary)
  • painpatches of thickened and dark brown or black skin on the neck, arms, breasts, or thighs
  • anxiety or depression due to appearance and/or infertility (well yea, the hormones are all outta whack and I want a baby)
  • sleep apnea—excessive snoring and times when breathing stops while asleep (i don't notice any problems here and hubby says I don't really snore)
Why do women with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) have trouble with their menstrual cycle?

The ovaries are two small organs, one on each side of a woman's uterus. A woman's ovaries have follicles, which are tiny sacs filled with liquid that hold the eggs. These sacs also are called cysts. Each month about 20 eggs start to mature, but usually only one matures fully. As this one egg grows, the follicle accumulates fluid in it. When that egg matures, the follicle breaks open to release it. The egg then travels through the fallopian tube for fertilization. When the single egg leaves the follicle, ovulation takes place.
In women with PCOS, the ovary doesn't make all of the hormones it needs for any of the eggs to fully mature. Follicles may start to grow and build up fluid. But no one follicle becomes large enough. Instead, some follicles may remain as cysts. Since no follicle becomes large enough and no egg matures or is released, ovulation does not occur and the hormone progesterone is not made. Without progesterone, a woman's menstrual cycle is irregular or absent. Plus, the cysts make male hormones, which also prevent ovulation.

Does polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) put women at risk for other health problems?
Women with PCOS have greater chances of developing several serious, life-threatening diseases, including type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease (CVD), and cancer. Recent studies found that:
  • More than 50 percent of women with PCOS will have diabetes or pre-diabetes (impaired glucose tolerance) before the age of 40.
  • Women with PCOS have a four to seven times higher risk of heart attack than women of the same age without PCOS.
  • Women with PCOS are at greater risk of having high blood pressure.
  • Women with PCOS have high levels of LDL (bad) cholesterol and low levels of HDL (good) cholesterol.
  • The chance of getting endometrial cancer is another concern for women with PCOS. Irregular menstrual periods and the absence of ovulation cause women to produce the hormone estrogen, but not the hormone progesterone. Progesterone causes the endometrium to shed its lining each month as a menstrual period. Without progesterone, the endometrium becomes thick, which can cause heavy bleeding or irregular bleeding. Over time, this can lead to endometrial hyperplasia, when the lining grows too much, and cancer.

I have more tests ran on Friday. Yippee! lol. Hopefully I can start treatment for PCOS, lose weight, and have a baby!


Lis said...

I am so glad you have a positive attitude about this. My best friend (who also is starting to want a baby - she's been married 6 years) has PCOS as well and just had surgery done on Friday. It went EXTREMELY well, and she is hoping she will get cleared to start trying to concieve this Friday! :)

Let us know, I will keep you in my prayers! Hopefully you will be feeling better and pregnant before you know it!! :)

mariehahn13 said...

Having been through all of this myself (diagnosed 8 years ago with PCOS), I can tell you that I KNOW you'll get pregnant! I did, and it was a wonderful surprise :) Just keep your head up :)