Are you looking for treatment for polycystic ovary disease? Polycystic Ovary Disease is also known as Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) because patients can show a set of medical signs and symptoms that are characteristics of Polycystic Ovary Disease. If you are suffering symptoms of Polycystic Ovary Disease, book an appointment with Mr Penman by clicking the blue ‘Book a Gynae Appointment’ button to the right of this article.
What is Polycystic Ovary Disease?
Polycystic ovary disease is called this because the condition causes many small cysts on the ovaries. The ovaries are only slightly larger than normal, they have multiple small cysts around the outer edge of the ovary giving the appearance of a ring of pearls on ultrasound examination. The cysts themselves are not harmful but cause a variety of symptoms a woman may experience.
The sex hormones, oestrogen and progesterone become out of balance and this leads to the growth of ovarian cysts (benign masses within the ovaries). The effect of this can cause disturbance to the menstrual cycle, infertility, acne and hair growth. Testosterone is not raised so some of these effects are caused by increased free testosterone. While testosterone levels are usually normal, the protein that carries testosterone around the body, SHBG (sex hormone binding globulin) is lower causing a greater level of free or active testosterone which is called the free androgen index.
Causes of Polycystic Ovary Disease
The cause of Polycystic Ovary Disease is not fully understood. It is thought to be genetic, so a family history of irregular periods or diabetes may be seen within the family of a woman with polycystic ovary syndrome. This can be inherited from the mother’s side or the father’s. There is also suggestion in some research that a mutation occurs at some point that leads to PCOS and environmental factors can also potentially cause this.
Signs and Symptoms of Polycystic Ovary Disease
Symptoms of PCOS may start off mildly and can occur anytime after a woman starts menstruation for the first time, but the type and severity of PCOS symptoms vary from woman to woman. The most commmon symptom of PCOS is irregular menstrual periods. The symptoms can wax and wane over time.
Due to the increased free androgen index, PCOS may cause women to develop certain male features:-
* excess hair on the face, chest and stomach
* thinning of hair on the head
* deeper voice
* reduced breast size
* weight gain/ trouble losing weight
* irregular menstrual periods
Occasionally women with PCOS may have other health issues that run concurrently, such as diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol. These tend to be linked to PCOS because of the weight gain that can happen as a symptom.
The diagnosis of PCOS is generally made from patient history, laboratory tests for hormone levels and a pelvic ultrasound scan. Mr Penman will talk you through the necessary tests in detail and the results once they are available.
The symptoms of Polycystic Ovary Syndrome generally come on gradually, so it may be a diagnosis made when the woman comes to try to get pregnant or as we are more informed, and look up symptoms online, patients may seek Mr Penman’s advice to regulate their periods and find that it is PCOS causing the problem. There are a few other conditions that could present with similar symptoms and these are ruled out during the various tests.
There is no cure for PCOS, the treatment is focused on controlling the symptoms and managing the condition to reduce any symptoms. Treatment will vary depending on the symptoms and the personal situation of the patient.
- If you are not planning a pregnancy but want to regulate your menstrual cycle, treat the acne and correct the free androgen index levels, Mr Penman may prescribe the oral contraceptive pill.
- If you are trying to achieve a pregnancy, Mr Penman will first try to regulate your menstrual cycle and achieve ovulation with the use of medication. He will repeat hormone levels to check for ovulation and either continue on the same dosage if you achieve ovulation or increase the dose slightly.
- Mr Penman may recommend surgical treatment of your PCOS and suggest performing ovarian capsular cautery. This procedure disrupts the ovarian capsule, which can become thickened during PCOS. It has been found to stimulate normal ovulation. It is not a long term solution, but will enable normal ovulation to occur that will hopefully lead onto fertilisation and pregnancy.
- Other factors can help reduce the effects of polycystic ovary syndrome, such as losing weight, eating healthily and regular exercise.
Polycystic Ovary Syndrome is a frustrating condition, what seems to start out as irregular periods and an inconvenience when young, can become an upsetting situation when trying to achieve a pregnancy. However, with treatment, the large majority of women suffering from Polycystic Ovary Syndrome will achieve a pregnancy.
If you would like to make an appointment to see Mr Penman, click on the blue button to the right of this article to book an appointment or follow this link to the