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One in ten women suffer from PCOS

One in ten women suffer from PCOS

The discovery of PCOS can be both confusing and frightening. In Sweden, about 5 percent of women have been diagnosed with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). Compared to global figures, there is a significant figure in the dark in Sweden, which indicates that another 5–10 percent of women may be undiagnosed.

Quick version

If you suspect you have PCOS, it is important to understand what this means and how it can affect your health. In this article, you will get an overview of causes, symptoms, treatment options, and guidance for navigating the diagnosis.

What exactly is PCOS?

Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is more than just a medical term; it is a reality that many women live with on a daily basis. Characterized by small cysts on the ovaries as well as a hormonal imbalance, PCOS can affect everything from your fertility to your skin and body hair. Many women discover they have PCOS during their childbearing years, often when they are trying to conceive or when they are struggling with irregular periods.

Why do women suffer from PCOS?

Although the exact cause of PCOS is not fully explored, current research points to a combination of genetic and environmental factors, including obesity. An increased production of male sex hormones better known as androgens, can interfere with the natural ovulation process, which in turn can cause symptoms and discomfort that many women experience.

Common symptoms of PCOS

The symptoms of PCOS can be both physically and emotionally taxing. They include irregular or absent periods, increased body hair (hirsutism), acne and weight gain. These signs are due to the hormonal imbalances that PCOS causes.

  • Irregular or absent menstruation: Many people experience fewer than nine periods per year.
  • High androgen levels: These hormones can cause increased hair growth in unwanted areas and male pattern hair loss.
  • Polycystic ovaries: Your ovaries may be enlarged and contain many small cysts.

These symptoms may worsen if you struggle with weight gain, which is common in women with PCOS. Managing your weight can actually help alleviate some of the symptoms and reduce the risk of long-term health complications like type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease that also have links to PCOS.

How is PCOS diagnosed and treated?

To diagnose PCOS, your doctor may suggest blood tests that measure your hormone levels and an ultrasound scan of your ovaries. The blood tests focus on measuring hormone levels, including androgens, which are often elevated in women with PCOS. Here below are examples of hormonal blood tests that can be carried out in the course of your own investigation.

  • Total Testosterone
  • Sex Hormone Binding Globulin (SHBG)
  • Luteinizing Hormone (LH)
  • Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH)
  • Prolactin
  • Thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH)
  • Free Thyroxine (T4)
  • Antimüllerian Hormone (AMH)

In addition to the above, a complementary ultrasound examination may possibly reveal the presence of several small cysts on the ovaries, which is typical of the condition. In addition, the doctor may also consider your medical history, symptoms, and family history to make an accurate diagnosis.

Treatment for PCOS

Treatment for PCOS is individual and aims to address the symptoms you are experiencing. For many women, this means a combination of lifestyle changes combined with medical treatment. Lifestyle changes, such as regular physical activity and a balanced diet, can help regulate the menstrual cycle and reduce the risk of metabolic complications, such as type 2 diabetes. This can also contribute to weight loss which can help relieve symptoms and discomfort.

Medical treatment options may include birth control pills that help regulate menstruation and reduce levels of male hormones, which can reduce unwanted hair growth and acne. For women struggling with infertility due to PCOS, fertility treatments or IVF (in vitro fertilization) may be offered to stimulate ovulation. Other drugs can also be used to improve or support insulin sensitivity.

You are not alone, several women are affected

Navigating through life with PCOS is definitely a challenge, but it's important to remember that you are not alone. There is a large community and many support groups available where you can share your experiences and get both support and advice. Many women with PCOS have found that by talking openly about their condition for increased support as well as increased awareness and understanding of this complex and widespread public illness.

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