Ask A Nurse - Polycystic Ovary Syndrome


Cathy discusses polycystic ovary syndrome. She explains what polycystic ovarian syndrome is and symptoms of PCOS. Cathy also discusses causes, diagnosis, and treatment of PCOS.

  • 00:00 What to expect in this episode of Ask A Nurse
  • 00:18 What is polycystic ovary syndrome?
  • 1:20 What causes polycystic ovary syndrome?
  • 2:41 How is polycystic ovary syndromediagnosed?
  • 3:37 How is polycystic ovary syndrometreated?

Full Transcript: Ask A Nurse - Polycystic Ovary Syndrome

Hi, I'm Cathy with Level Up RN. In this episode of Ask a Nurse, I'll be answering your questions about polycystic ovary syndrome, or PCOS, such as what are the symptoms of PCOS, what causes PCOS, and how is polycystic ovarian syndrome diagnosed and treated? Polycystic ovarian syndrome, or PCOS, is a common disorder that is characterized by a hormonal imbalance and the formation of cysts, which are small fluid-like sacs, in the ovaries. Symptoms of polycystic ovarian syndrome include irregular periods, such as missed periods, fewer periods, more frequent periods, or no periods at all. Other symptoms include infertility, and in fact, PCOS is one of the most common causes of infertility.

Other symptoms of polycystic ovarian syndrome include hirsutism, which is male pattern hair growth. This can result in abnormal hair growth on the face or body. Other symptoms include hair loss or thinning hair, as well as obesity and difficulty losing weight. And then PCOS can also cause acne, which may be difficult to treat. The exact cause of PCOS is not known, but there are a number of factors that play a role in the development of this disorder. This includes a high androgen level. So androgens are referred to as male hormones, but to be clear, all females produce a small amount of androgens.

A high androgen level prevents ovulation, which in turn causes the development of cysts in the ovaries and results in some of the symptoms that we talked about before, such as hirsutism and acne. Another key factor in the development of PCOS is insulin resistance, particularly in females who are overweight. So insulin resistance is when the body's cells do not respond appropriately to insulin. And insulin resistance leads to an increase in insulin levels, which in turn causes the ovaries to produce more androgens. Genetics may also play a role in the development of PCOS. So if you have a mother, sister, or aunt with polycystic ovarian syndrome, then you may have a greater likelihood of developing this disorder.

In terms of diagnosis of PCOS, your provider will review your symptoms and medical history and perform a physical exam. A pelvic exam may be performed in order to check for abnormalities such as swollen ovaries. And then a pelvic ultrasound may be ordered to check for the presence of cysts in the ovaries and to assess the uterine lining. In addition, blood tests may be ordered to check hormone levels, including androgen levels. Polycystic ovarian syndrome is diagnosed if you have two of the following symptoms: irregular periods; physical signs of increased androgen levels, such as hirsutism or acne; increased levels of androgens in the blood; and the presence of multiple cysts in one or both ovaries.

There is no cure for PCOS, but symptoms can be improved with weight loss and with medications. Losing weight can help reduce insulin resistance, regulate your menstrual cycle, and improve your chances of getting pregnant if that is your goal. Metformin is a diabetes medication that can reduce insulin and androgen levels and helps to restart ovulation. Clomiphene is a key medication that promotes ovulation if you are trying to get pregnant. And if you are not trying to get pregnant, then hormonal contraceptives and anti-androgen agents can be used to improve the symptoms of PCOS. All right. That is it for this episode of Ask a Nurse. I hope you have found this information to be helpful. If you have another health-related topic or question that you would like me to cover in a future episode, then definitely leave that for me in the comments. Stay informed and stay well.

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