ST. LOUIS - Women with or Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) have a history of irregular menstrual bleeding and often have difficulty getting pregnant. They also may have unwanted hair growth in places such as on the face, mainly on the upper lip and chin, between their breasts, in the lower part of the abdomen, and on the inner thighs. In severe cases, PCOS can head to balding, lowering of the voice, and bigger muscles.
Many women with PCOS produce too much insulin or the insulin they produce does not work as it should. This is one reason why women with PCOS tend to gain weight or have a hard time losing weight. They also have an increased risk of diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease.
Women with PCOS produce an excess amount of male sex hormones called androgens. All women produce a certain amount of these hormones. When too much is produced, it can prevent ovulation. This can result in infertility. Too much androgen also can result in excess hair growth and irregular bleeding.
Dr. Hamnah Siddiqui, an OB/GYN with SSM Health Medical Group, says treatment depends on the symptoms and whether a woman wants to become pregnant. Long-term treatment may be needed to help prevent endometrial cancer, diabetes and heart disease. Daily exercise improves the body’s use of insulin and can help relieve symptoms of PCOS. In some women with PCOS, weight loss will lower insulin levels enough to allow ovulation to begin. It also may help slow new hair growth.
Your doctor may prescribe progesterone or birth control pills to bring on regular menstrual bleeding. Women who wish to become pregnant may be given medications to help them ovulate. Some women with PCOS will be prescribed medication to lower their insulin levels.
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The SSM Health Medical Minute airs every Wednesday at 7 PM on KPLR News 11 and at 9 PM on KTVI Fox 2 News.