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Recognize the Signs of Polycystic Ovary Syndrome

Polycystic ovary syndrome, or PCOS, is a common health problem, affecting between 5-10% of women of childbearing age. It can occur when a woman’s body produces more male hormones than normal.

Many women with PCOS don’t know they have it. Here at Alpenglow Gynecology in Littleton, Colorado, Rickie Guida, WHNP-BC, and the team would like to share with you some of the most prevalent signs of PCOS. They include the following:  

Acne or oily skin

Extra male hormones can lead to increased oil production in your skin, which can cause acne on your face, chin, or back.

Excess hair growth

Approximately 70% of women with PCOS grow excess hair on your face, chin, chest, stomach, thighs, or other places that men typically have hair. Paradoxically, PCOS can also lead to thinning of the hair on your head or male-pattern baldness.

Cysts

PCOS can cause fluid-filled sacs to grow in or on your ovaries.

Metabolic health conditions

Many women with PCOS have insulin resistance, which means the cells in their bodies don’t respond normally to the hormone insulin. Over time, insulin resistance can contribute to prediabetes, diabetes, or a condition known as metabolic syndrome.

Infertility

The hormone imbalances associated with PCOS can affect the ability of your ovaries to make and release healthy eggs each month. As a result, you may have trouble getting pregnant. In fact, many women first discover they have PCOS when they are unable to get pregnant in their 20s or 30s.

PCOS is one of the most common causes of infertility in women. However, treatment can help make pregnancy possible.

Irregular menstrual periods

Hormone imbalances may prevent you from having normal periods. You may skip periods or have fewer than eight periods per year. Some women with PCOS stop having periods altogether. Alternately, you may have periods more often than normal.

Patches of thickened skin

Thickening or darkening of the skin can develop in various places, such as your groin, neck, or underneath your breasts.

Pregnancy complications

PCOS increases the risk of certain pregnancy complications, including gestational diabetes, miscarriage, and preeclampsia, a form of high blood pressure. It can also raise the likelihood of needing a Cesarean section to deliver your baby.

Weight gain

Women with PCOS may gain excess weight or have trouble losing weight. Approximately 80% of women with PCOS are obese.

Diagnosing PCOS

If you show any of the signs of PCOS, your care providers at Alpenglow Gynecology can perform a physical exam and a pelvic exam to learn more. You may also receive blood test to check your hormone levels or an ultrasound exam to look for cysts in your ovaries. There is no cure for PCOS, but we can we work with you to manage your symptoms. Call our office at 303-219-9143,  or make an appointment using our online scheduling tool.



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