Many women between the age of 18 and 44 suffer from hormonal disorders which cause polycystic ovary syndrome. It may also affect the young girls at the age of 11. According to the statistics one in fifteen women will be affected by this syndrome.
This multi-factorial disorder is caused by obesity, insufficient physical activity, overproduction of testosterone which is normally found in women’s bodies only in small quantities and family history of polycystic ovary syndrome.
Insulin resistance may be another factor for this syndrome since it increases the levels of testosterone.
The role of the insulin is to lower the blood sugar levels. If there is an insulin resistance, the insulin will be unable to lower the blood sugar which seriously increases. This stimulates the body to produce even more insulin. That is how the level of insulin significantly increases.
Polycystic ovaries syndrome is one of the main reasons for female infertility since it causes anovulatory infertility.
The ovulation is a reproductive process which occurs every month. Ovaries produce an egg cell which is mature and it is supposed to be fertilized.
Although this syndrome is incurable, some lifestyle changes may put its symptoms under control, especially regular physical activity and losing the excess weight.
It is also treated with clomiphene, metformin or birth control pills. Implementation of laser surgery in the treatment of this syndrome minimizes the physical symptoms such as hirsutism.
How to identify the symptoms
Unfortunately the symptoms are often ignored by most of the women since they cannot link them to this hormonal imbalance. They usually notice the problem while trying to get pregnant.
As reported by a study published in 2005 in The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, the women in America who suffer from this syndrome spend billions of dollars a year on medical treatments and diagnostic procedures. The money spent on diagnostic procedures is about 2% of the huge amounts. This implies that the polycystic ovary syndrome is not diagnosed early. If it is diagnosed early the severe symptoms and the consequences will be minimized and the amount of money spent on treatments would not be that huge.
Women affected by this syndrome may undergo some or almost all symptoms of this hormonal disorder. Read the text below in order to find out more.
1. Irregular menstrual cycle
This is the most common and persistent symptom.
Excess amounts of testosterone in the female body cause the formation of ovarian cysts which on the other hand create an obstruction for the ovaries preventing them to release the egg cells. Consequently, irregular periods occur.
They are also very common in teenage years as well. In some of the cases irregular periods may signify polycystic ovary syndrome but in teenage years this symptom is accompanied by various other symptoms too. A study conducted in 2014 in Human Reproduction showed that irregular periods in teenage years are associated with polycystic ovaries and with infertility in future.
If they proceed in the late teen years too they are more likely to be caused by this syndrome.
2. Primary amenorrhea
Irregular periods or secondary amenorrhea are more common rather than primary amenorrhea. The secondary amenorrhea affects women who previously had normal menstruations but which stopped for more than six months.
The primary amenorrhea affects young girls at the age of 16 or 18 who do not get their periods until this age. It is due to the high testosterone levels which prevent the ovaries to release the mature egg cells thus completely inhibiting the menstruation.
Some physical disorders or deficiencies may also result in lack of menstruation. However, it represents a pretty early symptom which is related to polycystic ovaries too.
3. Excessive hair on the body and even on the face
This symptom is called hirsutism. It is due to the high testosterone levels and it is another common symptom of this syndrome.
The jaw area, upper leap, chin area, stomach, arms, chest, legs and thighs are the most affected body parts by hirsutism.
A study from 2012 in the American Family Physician showed that 3 out of 4 women who have hirsuitism suffer from polycystic ovary syndrome. The most difficult problem to cope with is the facial hairs. Their removal may require a lot of money and time.
4. Hair loss or thin hair
Losing hair during shampooing or finding a lot of hairs on the pillow after waking up in the morning are clear symptoms of this syndrome.
Loss of hair can be caused by any kind of hormone disorder.
The active and high testosterone in the female body gets to the scalp and transforms into its derivate which is called di-hydro-testosterone. It comes into interaction with the enzymes in the follicles of the hair. The derivate binds with the hair follicles making them shorter. This slows down the hair growth which becomes thinner than usual.
Skin issues such as acne especially in the 20s are also associated with polycystic ovary syndrome. They are related to the high levels of testosterone which stimulate the oil production in the sebaceous glands.
Polycystic ovary syndrome acnes usually appear on the cheeks, chin, jaw lines and the upper neck. They look like hard bumps which are not visible since they are always under the skin.
They are more visible before the menstrual period and persist longer than the regular acne. Their color is red and sometimes they have white or yellowish painful head.
6. Obesity, gaining weight and difficulties losing it
Not all women suffering from polycystic ovary syndrome are obese but they are not thin as well. Their metabolisms are slow and they are overweight.
A study made in 2002 in the International Journal of Obesity and Other Related Metabolic Disorders showed that half of the women suffering from this syndrome are either obese or overweight and the fat is accumulated mostly around their abdomens.
A very common symptom is the inability to lose weight despite their healthy lifestyles.
Cardiovascular issues and hypertension appear in most cases of polycystic ovaries. A study from 2015 in the American Journal of Hypertension showed that hypertension appears only if the women have very high body mass index.
8. Abnormal skin color changes
The polycystic ovary syndrome may result in skin abnormalities such as brown or black patches which usually are located in the groin area, the forehead, neck folds, between thighs, navel, armpits and breasts. Rarely, it may also appear on the knees, elbows and hands. This abnormality is called acanthosis nigricans.
As reported by the researchers who published their study in 2011 in the Indian Journal of Dermatology, six out of thirty women diagnosed with acanthosis nigricans have polycystic ovaries too.
The discolored, thick and corrosive skin of those women is due to insulin resistance or high insulin levels in the body.
Another research made in 2004 showed that 69% of women diagnosed with polycystic ovaries suffer from acanthosis nigricans as well.
Some of these skin issues may include skin growths or warts hanging from the skin.
As a result of the hirsutism, women who have polycystic ovaries undergo a lot of stress too. As some studies have shown they undergo very high or neurotic stress.
The syndrome of polycystic ovaries is always followed by depression as well. Several studies have shown that it causes feelings of anxiety and depression in most women. The higher body mass index the most prone the woman is to depression and anxiety.
If you have some of the symptoms listed above consult your doctor.