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How Common is PCOS?

How Common is PCOS?

Did you know polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) can lead to numerous health complications, including severe acne, heart disease, diabetes, abnormal menstrual cycles, and even infertility? Fortunately, different treatment options exist to help you manage your symptoms and reclaim your quality of life. 

At Alpenglow Gynecology in Littleton, Colorado, women’s health expert Rickie Guida, WHNP-BC, specializes in diagnosing and treating PCOS. Let’s take a closer look at this health condition, how common it is, and how you can get help.     

What is PCOS?

You develop polycystic ovary syndrome when you have hormonal imbalances. The primary imbalance is having too many androgens in your system. While androgens are male hormones, women naturally have smaller amounts. 

Women with PCOS typically also have too much of the hormone insulin. Insulin plays a key role in your metabolism by working to convert the foods you eat into energy to help you function. 

Because of these imbalances, PCOS affects your reproductive health. Every month, hormones stimulate your ovary, causing them to produce a sac, or cyst, that contains one of your eggs. It’s released to become fertilized when you ovulate.

PCOS leads your body to create many of these sacs inside your ovaries, each containing one of your eggs. But these eggs never trigger ovulation, as they don’t mature enough. When you don’t ovulate, your hormones get further out of balance. 

The condition can cause a host of unpleasant symptoms and side effects, including irregular periods, acne, weight gain, excessive body hair, skin changes, skin tags, thinning hair, and infertility. PCOS is also linked to serious health problems, including:  

In addition, more than half of all women diagnosed with PCOS also develop type 2 diabetes. If you suspect you have PCOS, be sure to schedule an appointment with Rickie for an evaluation.

Is PCOS common?

PCOS is a common reproductive condition, affecting between 6-12% of women in their reproductive years. While researchers are still trying to figure out the exact cause of PCOS, they do know that your chances of developing the condition are higher if you have a close family member with PCOS.

You’re also more likely to develop PCOS if you’re overweight or obese, have insulin resistance, or have chronic inflammation. To determine if you have PCOS, Rickie reviews your symptoms and medical history, then uses a combination of exams and testing, including:

To receive a medical diagnosis of PCOS, Rickie will determine that no other condition is causing your symptoms and that you have at least two of the following:

The sooner you see Rickie and get an accurate diagnosis, the sooner you can begin treatment.  

What happens if I have PCOS?

Although there’s no cure for PCOS at this time, there are treatments available to reduce the side effects of the condition and improve your health — including your fertility. Effective treatment options for PCOS include:

Key lifestyle changes

One of the most important ways to manage PCOS and reduce your risk of developing the associated health complications is by making key lifestyle changes, such as:

Women who combine these lifestyle changes not only improve their PCOS symptoms but also improve their overall health.

Medications

Depending on your needs, Rickie may also recommend different medications to help manage your PCOS symptoms. 

For women not planning to become pregnant, hormonal birth control pills can help control your cycle and reduce the level of androgens in your system. She may also recommend progestin therapy. For women who want to have a baby, Rickie may suggest medications that stimulate ovulation and medications to control your insulin levels, such as metformin.

If you think you’re one of the millions of women affected by PCOS, don’t wait to Contact Rickie and the team at Alpenglow Gynecology in Littleton, Colorado. Call us at 303-797-9199 or book an appointment online now. 

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