What Are The First Signs Of PCOS? 3 Early Symptoms
Polycystic Ovary Syndrome is amongst the leading causes of infertility in women. Take a closer look at some of the first signs you should be aware of.
When it comes to women’s health, there are a number of preventative measures that can help keep you safe. Some preventive measures that have saved countless lives include pap smears and mammograms.These tests have caught early indications of cancer in countless women.
Stay proactive with your health and familiarize yourself with the early indications of common women-specific syndromes and disorders. Below is a closer look at a common cause of female infertility known as PCOS, its early symptoms, and how it is treated.
What Is PCOS?
PCOS stands for Polycystic Ovary Syndrome. It is a condition where women during their early reproductive years produce more androgen hormones (or male hormones) than usual.The high levels of androgens can also result in the formation of ovarian cysts or pus-filled sacs on the outer surface of the ovary.
According to the CDC, PCOS is thought to affect anywhere from 6-12% of women in the United States.
Unfortunately, the exact cause of this hormonal disorder is poorly understood. As PCOS is one of the leading contributors to female infertility, staying informed on early indications is important to help preserve your sexual health.
What Are the Early Symptoms of PCOS?
PCOS is a fairly common condition affecting nearly 5 million women in the U.S., but its diagnosis is elusive. Some estimates state that 75% of women with PCOS remain undiagnosed after visiting their doctor.
This mainly has to do with the fact that PCOS symptoms can closely resemble a number of other things, such as the changes experienced during puberty. Educating yourself is the best way to advocate for yourself and your health. Below is a closer look at three common early indications of PCOS.
The menstrual cycle is a tightly regulated cycle that coordinates the growth of the endometrial lining, the timing of egg release, and other changes to bring about the best possible conditions for fertilization and implantation in the uterus to occur.
A 28-day cycle is about average, but many women have slight variations. Individuals with PCOS, however, tend to have very irregular periods (known as oligo ovulation) or simply do not ovulate (known as anovulation).
In addition to the difference in cycle length, individuals with PCOS may notice changes in menstruation itself. Individuals with PCOS may experience heavier flows or more cramping(dysmenorrhea).
Imbalanced hormone levels due to PCOS may also cause common symptoms like painful menstrual periods, pelvic pain, and metabolic issues related to dys-regulated insulin levels and blood sugar levels.
To help better control blood glucose, your physician may prescribe a sugar-balancing medication like metformin.
Feelings of Anxiety or Depression
The hormonal imbalance of PCOS can impact your mental well-being. It is no secret that hormones have an effect on the way people feel, and excessive androgens may be a contributing factor to individuals developing anxiety or depression.
A study out of Australia found a higher prevalence of depression and anxiety in women diagnosed with PCOS than in women who did not have PCOS. The study also found that women diagnosed with PCOS were more likely to indicate that they had a higher level of perceived stress than women without PCOS.
Whether the stress is due to imbalanced hormones or simple discomfort, it is likely to lead to significant lifestyle changes. You may prioritize comfort by staying in or away from certain foods that flare up your symptoms. You may also develop instances of high blood pressure or high cholesterol due to feelings of anxiety due to hormone imbalances.
Excessive Hair Growth and Acne
One of the most glaring indications of PCOS are the visible signs and symptoms. When women start producing more androgens, the body responds by producing more body hair and secreting more oils from the skin, which can contribute to acne and oily skin.
Hirsutism is one symptom caused by elevated androgens that are characterized by the growth of thick, coarse body hair. Alternatively, those with PCOS can also experience male-pattern baldness, body hair loss, and skin tags due to elevated androgen levels.
In addition to hirsutism, excessive androgens can contribute to acne of the face, chest, neck, and back.
How Is PCOS Treated?
PCOS can occur by itself, but it is often accompanied by other health conditions such as obesity, insulin resistance (type 2 diabetes), weight gain, sleep apnea, heart disease, and other health conditions associated with a less-than-ideal lifestyle.
Some people with PCOS may find some level of improvement by promoting a healthier lifestyle focusingon weightloss or maintaining a healthy weight, exercise, and better nutrition.
Some individuals may not have other comorbidities and may simply suffer from a hormone imbalance that requires medical intervention. Typically a hormone saliva or blood test will be ordered from your physician to confirm the presence of excess androgens.
With this information, your care provider may suggest getting on hormonal birth control pills to help encourage more regular periods and serve as an effective form of contraception.They may also opt to prescribe an antiandrogenic, like flutamide, spironolactone cyproterone acetate, and finasteride.