Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) has a variety of symptoms which characterize it, including irregular periods, vaginal bleeding, hair loss or irregular hair growth (hirutism), acne, insulin resistance which leads to weight gain, sleep apnea, chronic pelvic pain, high blood pressure and infertility. There is another symptom to be added, and that is the presence of cysts on the ovaries, which is how the condition got its name: Poly (many) cystic (cysts) ovarian (on the ovaries) syndrome.
What Is A Cyst And How Does It Affect Me?
A cyst is a sac that is filled with fluid and an ovarian cyst is a fluid-filled sac located on one of the ovaries. Many times these cysts, which can be harmless, are not symptomatic and consequently are not diagnosed. On the other hand, they can be very problematic and cause serious issues, such as PCOS. The statistics indicate that between four and ten percent of women will develop PCOS. The symptoms of the condition are in direct relationship to the activity of the ovarian cysts and how they affect the woman's body.
Besides causing symptoms associated with PCOS, ovarian cysts can also make intercourse painful and unpleasant. There are times when ovarian cysts will rupture, causing serious pain in the area of the pelvis and in rare cases, they can even become malignant.
Birth Control Pills Work, If You Don't Want A Baby
The most common way of dealing with ovarian cysts is with birth control pills, especially if the woman has PCOS. The birth control pills help to keep the menstrual cycle regular and also help to reduce the level of androgens (male hormones) in the woman's body. Acne sufferers also seem to benefit from using birth control pills. Acne is a very common symptom of PCOS and one that causes a great deal of angst, especially among younger women.
But, If You Do Want To Conceive, There Are Other Treatments
Most women with PCOS don't know they have the condition until such time as they try to conceive a pregnancy. The difficulty which often ensues in such a situation causes investigation into the reasons why conception is so hard. Birth control pills are not an effective treatment in this type of situation. The most common treatment used for women who are trying to conceive is fertility medications, such as Clomid. These types of medications help the woman's ovulatory cycle become more stable and the drugs can also help address other symptoms as well.
Another medication which is commonly used to address symptoms of PCOS is the diabetic medication Metformin. Also known as Glucophage, this drug affects the way insulin is used in the body and also helps to decrease the production of androgens, especially testosterone. Not only can it help ovulation to become established, it also addresses the hair growth issues women with PCOS often experience.
Once ovarian cysts have been identified and the condition addressed with effective drug procedures, a woman may be able to conceive. The process may not be an easy one, but many women with PCOS have been able to have a baby.