PCOS: The Cousin of Diabetes?
Have you ever heard of polycystic ovary syndrome (or PCOS)?
If not, don’t worry, as many people haven’t. Yet it’s estimated that 5 to 10 percent of women in the U.S. (about 5 million!) have this syndrome, whose wide variety of symptoms often affect their reproductive health in ways that can be truly devastating, including infertility.
September is PCOS Awareness Month, which makes this a good opportunity to learn more about this endocrine system disorder and its link to diabetes. Here’s what you need to know.
So what is PCOS? How do I know if I have it?
PCOS is a condition that causes an imbalance of female sex hormones. It is the number-one cause of female infertility.
Why is this? Well, a woman’s ovaries have follicles, which are tiny, fluid-filled sacs that hold the eggs. When an egg is mature, the follicle releases the egg so it can travel to the uterus for fertilization. In women with PCOS, immature follicles bunch together to form large cysts or lumps. The eggs mature within the bunched follicles, but the follicles don’t break open to release them.
As a result, women with PCOS often don’t have menstrual periods or only have periods on occasion. Because the eggs are not released, most have trouble getting pregnant.
Though most commonly diagnosed in women of reproductive age, PCOS can be diagnosed in any phase of life—in girls as young as 8 to 9 years old, up through post-menopause.
Here are the most common signs and symptoms of PCOS:
Irregular or no menstrual cycles
Heavy or prolonged bleeding
Inability to get pregnant
High levels of and Continue reading