How PCOS Can Affect Your Life
“Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, or PCOS, is a metabolic and endocrine disorder that affects 5-20 percent of people with ovaries” explains Dr. Jourdan Schmitz, a physician with St. Clair Medical Group OB/GYN. Out of the people who are affected by this disorder worldwide, about 70 percent of them likely remain undiagnosed.
It is important to understand that the symptoms of PCOS can vary from person to person. One common symptom of PCOS is irregular periods. This disorder can cause the individuals affected to experience long gaps between their periods. Dr. Schmitz also explains, “Those with PCOS may also have signs of elevated testosterone, such as excess hair growth.” This excess hair growth is commonly found in areas such as the chin, chest, stomach, and back.
This disorder can also affect the ovaries and their function. PCOS can cause one’s ovaries to become enlarged due to abnormal development of many small cysts on the ovaries. In addition to this, the disorder is also a common cause of infertility.
Causes and Life Impacts
At the moment the cause of PCOS is not known. “Research is ongoing as to how PCOS develops, but there are likely both genetic and environmental factors at play,” says Dr. Schmitz. Whatever the cause, we know there is an intersectionality between excess testosterone and insulin resistance.
The insulin resistance that is caused by PCOS can lead to trouble controlling blood sugar levels. This may result in the individual needing to seek assistance with regulating their blood sugar, which can be done through a change in diet and activity levels or through the use of medications. There are different diabetes medications that can be helpful to those with PCOS, but a healthy diet and physical activity can also help reduce symptoms, help your body regulate its insulin better, lower your glucose levels, and even assist with your ovulation.
The irregularity in menstrual cycles and infertility that those with PCOS often face can have a large impact on a person’s life. People with PCOS may need to consult a physician to gain medical assistance with conception and the regulation of their periods. There are different medications that can be used to assist in ovulation. They can be used to help the ovaries release eggs normally, which can increase your chances of getting pregnant. There are also medications, like birth control pills, that can help to control your menstrual cycles and increase regularity.
Additional Health Concerns
PCOS can also be the cause of other health concerns. “Untreated PCOS does increase the risk of uterine cancer, so treatment that protects the uterine lining is very important,” explains Dr. Schmitz. This disorder can also lead to an increased risk of developing diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and obesity.
These additional health concerns can become incredibly serious and can have a large impact on your health. This is why Dr. Schmitz recommends that you consult your provider if you think there could be a chance that you have PCOS. “I recommend that people see their providers to discuss possible PCOS if menses are irregular, they are having trouble conceiving, or if they are concerned about potential elevated testosterone,” says Dr. Schmitz.
If you are concerned that you may have PCOS, please make an appointment with a gynecologist to talk about diagnosis and treatment. If you are in need of a new gynecologist please contact St. Clair Medical Group’s OB/GYN practice at 412.942.1066.
Jourdan Schmitz, MD
Dr. Schmitz specializes in obstetrics and gynecology and is board-certified by the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology. She earned her medical degree from the University of South Florida Morsani College of Medicine. She then completed her residency at UPMC Magee-Womens Hospital. She practices with St. Clair Medical Group. To contact Dr. Schmitz, please call 412.942.1066.