Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, or PCOS, is a health problem that affects approximately 1 in 10 women of childbearing age. Women with PCOS have a hormone imbalance and metabolism problems that may affect their overall health. The syndrome is characterized clinically by oligomenorrhea (fewer than nine menstrual cycles in a year), hyperandrogenism (acne, hirsutism, male-pattern hair loss and/or elevated serum androgen levels, or “male hormones”), as well as the frequent presence of other associated risk factors for cardiovascular disease (obesity, fatty liver, glucose intolerance, etc).
- Our providers are able to prescribe medications commonly used to treat PCOS and its symptoms. A great example is hormonal birth control to regulate the menstrual cycle, improve acne and reduce the risk of endometrial cancer.
- Our Registered Dietitian can assist with diet management.
- In more complex cases, our GYN specialist Dr. Shanis will craft an individualized treatments plan according to symptoms, other health issues, and if the patient is considering pregnancy.
- Our Medical Spa can address acne and unwanted facial hair.
- Our psychologists are available for emotional support.
- We have a variety of fitness partners that offer our members discounts. They can assist with weight reduction to treat high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and irregular cycles.
The diagnosis of PCOS is suspected when a women presents with irregular menstrual cycles and symptoms of hyperandrogenism, like acne, hirsutism, or male-pattern hair loss. The presence of overweight or obesity should further raise suspicion. There is no single test to diagnose PCOS but your Health Care Provider will talk to you about your medical history and do a physical exam, and order different tests. The physical exam may show signs of hyperandrogenism, like acne, extra hair on your face, chest or back or skin discoloration, called acanthosis nigricans. A pelvic exam may also be completed at this time. Blood tests can check your androgen hormone levels, as well as checking for irregular thyroid levels, a common issue that also affect menstrual cycles. Since PCOS is thought to be related to insulin resistance, glucose levels will also be ordered. A pelvic ultrasound is ordered to assess for cysts and to check the lining of the uterus. Women with polycystic ovaries seen on ultrasound and no other clinical features of PCOS do not have the syndrome and do not need further evaluation.
Studies have found that PCOS may be associated with other health problems, like diabetes. More than half of women diagnosed with PCOS will have diabetes or prediabetes. These women are also at a greater risk for high blood pressure, higher cholesterol levels and sleep apnea. Medications commonly used to treat PCOS and its symptoms, include hormonal birth control to regulate the menstrual cycle, improve acne and reduce the risk of endometrial cancer. Anti-androgen medications block the effects of the male hormones and can help reduce body hair, acne, and hair loss. Metformin is often used to treat Type 2 Diabetes and may help some women with PCOS. Diet and exercise helps with weight reduction to treat the high blood pressure, high cholesterol, irregular cycles and to improve insulin resistance. Treatment is individualized to each women according to symptoms, other health issues, and whether she wants to become pregnant.