• Polycystic Ovary Syndrome

    Anywhere between 6-12% of individuals with a uterus who are of childbearing age will develop Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, or PCOS. The symptoms associated with PCOS are caused by a hormonal imbalance–your body starts producing too much of some hormones and not enough of others. While the underlying and root cause of this imbalance is not well understood, PCOS symptoms can be successfully managed and several therapeutic approaches exist.

    Polycystic Ovary Syndrome can cause complications throughout your body, including infertility and obesity. If you think you might have PCOS, you can work with your OBGYN or Midwife to develop a treatment plan and find strategies that help you successfully manage your condition.

    What Are the Symptoms of PCOS?

    For most menstruating individuals, Polycystic Ovary Syndrome develops around puberty. This usually occurs around the time when you have your first period.  Diagnosing PCOS can be tricky as it is not uncommon for menstrual periods to be somewhat irregular for the first 2-3 years after you have your first menarche (first period).  For others, symptoms may develop later in life, sometimes in response to weight gain. Most people don’t know they have PCOS until they visit their doctor. This usually occurs during their 20s or 30s when they have trouble becoming pregnant.

    The most common symptoms of PCOS include the following:

    Only your doctor can diagnose polycystic ovary syndrome. But if you’re experiencing multiple symptoms as noted above, it’s worth bringing your concerns to the attention of your OBGYN or Midwife.

    Can PCOS Cause Complications?

    Over the long term, PCOS can cause complications in a variety of ways. Some of the most common are the following:

    In general, those with PCOS may experience trouble becoming pregnant. That’s because the hormone imbalance may sometimes interfere with ovulation–and if there’s no egg to become fertilized, one cannot conceive. 

    Additionally, you may experience metabolic complications due to your PCOS. This could increase your overall risk of cardiovascular disease and high blood pressure.

    None of these complications are inevitable. There is a great deal of variability in terms of who experiences complications and who does not. The best way to avoid complications is to work closely with your OBGYN or Midwife to manage symptoms

    What are the Treatments for Polycystic Ovary Syndrome?

    In general, the approach to treating PCOS is to help you manage your symptoms as well as possible. As new symptoms may (or may not) pop up, your OBGYN or Midwife will work with you to manage those as well.

    As a result, PCOS may be treated in the following ways:

    Your OBGYN or Midwife will help you manage the symptoms of your PCOS. There’s no cure for the overall condition, but with the right approach, you can still live a very full and healthy life.

    Common PCOS Questions

    Many people will have questions about their polycystic ovary syndrome. Among the most common are the following:

    Will PCOS go away after menopause?

    In some ways, your polycystic ovary syndrome will no longer impact you after menopause–in particular the aspects related to infertility and conception. However, your hormonal imbalance will still remain in place. And the life-long complications will still be with you. So, you’ll still have to work with your provider to manage any symptoms that remain.

    If I become pregnant, will PCOS Impact my pregnancy?

    It could. Polycystic ovary syndrome can increase your chances of gestational diabetes, hypertensive disorders in pregnancy, pregnancy loss, and preterm birth. If you know you have PCOS and you become pregnant, you will want to work closely with your OBGYN or Midwife to monitor your pregnancy.

    How will my doctor diagnose my PCOS?

    A diagnosis requires a multitude of factors. In general, your OBGYN or Midwife will perform a physical exam and order blood tests. A pelvic exam and pelvic sonogram (ultrasound) may also be performed. Based on the results of all of these tests, your provider may be able to determine whether you have polycystic ovary syndrome and in some cases may refer you to meet with an endocrinologist who specializes in diagnosing, treating and managing metabolic disorders including PCOS.

    Talk to Your OBGYN About PCOS

    Polycystic ovary syndrome impacts almost one in ten people of childbearing age. This occurs in varying degrees of severity. So, it’s important to understand that, even though there is no cure for PCOS, many people are able to successfully treat this condition on a daily basis.

    If you have questions about PCOS, or think this condition may be impacting your fertility, talk to your OBGYN or Midwife today! Contact us at our Wilmette or Glenview locations to schedule an appointment.

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