Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) is a very common problem – affecting about six million women in the United States. Polycystic ovary syndrome is defined as having two out of the following three signs or symptoms: irregular or even absent periods, evidence of high androgen or male hormone levels (acne and hair growth are a couple of signs); and/or polycystic appearing ovaries – this refers to multiple, small follicles seen on the ovary.
Women with polycystic ovary syndrome may have problems getting pregnant and even staying pregnant because of the abnormal hormone levels involved. If pregnancy is your goal, areproductive endocrinologist will check hormone levels and devise a treatment plan hopefully resulting in a pregnancy. The abnormal hormone levels involved can also have an effect on a woman’s metabolism. Problems with obesity and insulin resistance are also very common.
Women with PCOS have abnormal secretion of hormones involved in the opioid system. This system has effects in the brain as well as elsewhere in the body. The opioid system controls appetite, food cravings, mood, how we think, our stress response, and sleep. What does this mean for women with PCOS? This could explain why women with PCOS may have problems with food cravings, depression, sleep quality, daytime sleepiness and are at increased risk for sleep apnea, and score lower on memory tests. Treatment plans to address these issues involve medication to reduce insulin levels as well as testosterone levels. Treating the symptoms of PCOS have been shown to improve your quality of life.
My message is this: PCOS is not a simple disease that can be ignored until a woman is trying to get pregnant. Seek treatment now because the quality of your life may improve. The disease is often thought of as a disease of the ovaries but the hormone imbalance has brain effects as well as effects on other organs of your body. I am a specialist on PCOS and its effects on pregnancy and beyond…..