PCOS Diagnosis and Treatment

July 16, 2023
Lisa P. Otey, MD

Polycystic Ovary Syndrome

PCOS or polycystic ovary syndrome, where a woman might have unusual menstrual cycles, absence of periods altogether, excess amounts of hair growth or infertility, can develop under conditions of abnormal hormone levels. This article will explain what polycystic ovary syndrome is, and the methods by which it can be diagnosed and treated by a Houston Gynecologist.

What are the symptoms?

The most common symptoms of polycystic ovary syndrome are a disruption of the normal menstrual cycle and an inability to conceive. It is also common for women to experience hair growth in areas such as the face (chin and upper lip), the chest, the abdomen and the inside of the thighs. Occasionally, balding, increased muscular mass and voice changes may be experienced.
A common problem for PCOS sufferers is weight gain or difficulty losing weight. This can be caused by either an abnormally high level of insulin or insulin that does not respond normally in the body. Subsequently, they are also vulnerable to diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease.
Appropriate treatment by a Houston Gynecologist can relieve your symptoms and help you manage the condition long-term.

What are the causes of polycystic ovary syndrome?

Normally, the follicle sac surrounding the egg in the ovary produces the hormone estrogen before releasing the egg once a month, at which point it also starts producing progesterone. A woman with polycystic ovary syndrome typically produces too much male hormone called androgens, which can inhibit ovulation, and also result in extra hair growth and erratic bleeding.

How will I be diagnosed?

Your Houston Gynecologist may ask you for information relating to your menstrual cycle, your general health, and unwanted hair growth. The diagnosis will be made on the basis of the results of a physical examination, laboratory tests and your medical history. The doctor will look for evidence of excess androgens, take some measurements including your weight and blood pressure, and may also require a sample of blood to be taken.
The laboratory tests would reveal the presence of diabetes and abnormal hormone levels — a woman who has excess androgen levels and is not ovulating will be diagnosed as having PCOS. You may also be required to have an ultrasound scan to check for tiny cysts on the ovaries, another symptom of PCOS.

How will I be treated?

Despite the fact that polycystic ovary syndrome is a condition which will remain with you for the rest of your life, there are several forms of extremely effective treatment available. The treatment chosen for a particular woman will depend upon the exact combination of symptoms being experienced, and also on whether or not she intends to have children.
Ongoing, longer-term treatments may be required in order to reduce the risk of endometrial cancer, heart disease and also diabetes.

How will it affect my life?

You will have to come to terms with the fact that you are going to have to work at managing your condition. A moderate amount of light exercise every day will greatly improve your ability to relieve many of the symptoms. It will help to enable your body to make better use of the insulin it is producing and thus fight PCOS.
In certain cases of PCOS, the decreased levels of insulin achieved by weight loss may allow the body to start ovulation and reduce excess hair growth. Advice should be sought from a nutritionist or medical professional on the most appropriate methods to use in order to lose weight.

What about medication?

One of the most effective ways of re-establishing a regular menstrual cycle is to take progesterone or certain other types of hormone, or the contraceptive pill. The doctor may prescribe this type of treatment or, if you still intend to get pregnant at some point, medication which could help you to ovulate. Depending on your own particular insulin levels, you may also be advised to take medication aimed at reducing these levels.
The birth control pill and other forms of medication can also be effective at slowing down the rate at which new hair growth is being generated by your body — this might take a number of months to produce noticeable results and, in the meantime, other methods such as shaving, and electrolysis may be used in order to reduce unwanted hair.
If your doctor decides it may be beneficial, medication can also be prescribed to control diabetes, elevated levels of cholesterol, and also high blood pressure.

A final word…

Remember that there are several effective ways to treat and manage PCOS. When appropriate methods are adopted, the condition and its symptoms can be relieved to a significant extent.

It is important that you have continuing treatment and pay frequent visits to your Houston Gynecologist so that he or she can monitor your progress and general health in case you develop any side effects associated with the various forms of medication you are taking. If you make the recommended changes to your lifestyle, your overall health, together with your PCOS symptoms, will improve.

Contact us by phone or web to make a same day appointment to discuss your specific needs. We’re always happy to hear from you!