Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) affects about 5 million U.S. women in their reproductive years. The team at Capital Women’s Care in Leesburg and Sterling, Virginia, can help women diagnose and treat this complex condition so that more serious health problems don’t arise later in life. Whether you’re concerned about a particular symptom or just want an overall wellness exam, there’s a team of qualified physicians here to support your journey back to health.
What are the signs and symptoms of PCOS?
The hormonal imbalance caused by PCOS can result in several different symptoms that may worsen or change over time.
- Infertility — PCOS is the most common cause of female infertility and increases the risk of miscarriage once a woman does conceive.
- Anovulation — A condition where the ovaries do not release an egg during your normal menstrual cycle.
- Infrequent or irregular periods — You may have a very irregular cycle, varied bleeding patterns, or skip periods altogether.
- Ovarian cysts — PCOS can often develop multiple small cysts on the ovaries that can complicate fertility, cause pelvic pain, or create irregularities in the menstrual cycle.
- Abnormal bleeding — You might experience spotting or bleeding when you’re not on your period or very heavy bleeding when you finally do get a period on your own.
- Hirsutism — You may have male-pattern hair growth, with excess hair appearing on the face, arms, or neck.
- Weight gain — You might experience weight gain that can be difficult to manage with diet or exercise, which can aggravate the high cholesterol and glucose imbalances often linked with PCOS (aka Metabolic Syndrome).
- Mood disorders — PCOS can cause complications that lead to mood disorders like depression or anxiety.
How is PCOS treated?
The OB/GYNs at Capital Women’s Care treat PCOS by first getting a clear picture of your health history and your symptoms. That helps them determine the cause of your condition and identify what’s facilitating your body’s hormonal imbalances.
Your physician might recommend several different approaches to manage the symptoms of PCOS, including medications that:
- Regulate your menstrual cycle — These may include combination (estrogen and progestin) birth control pills or progestin therapy.
- Trigger ovulation — These medications could include different types of hormone therapy that target estrogen levels or improve insulin resistance.
- Address hair growth — Certain kinds of birth control pills or topical creams can slow or prevent the growth of facial hair.
Treatment is always individualized to support your needs and unique health challenges.
What can I do to support myself?
Evidence suggests that diet and lifestyle factors can play a significant role in treating the symptoms of PCOS. In addition to medical support, you can aim to:
- Stay at a healthy weight — Weight gain can exacerbate symptoms and cause further hormonal imbalances.
- Eat a low-carbohydrate diet — A diet heavy in carbohydrates can create insulin resistance, which can worsen PCOS symptoms.
- Stay active — Exercise helps to balance hormones, regulate your weight, and keep the body more sensitive to insulin.
Are you concerned you may have PCOS? Book an appointment with one of our expert physicians.