Over the next couple of blog posts I will be discussing some of the other illnesses that can commonly affect people with endometriosis. Please note that you do not have to have endometriosis to suffer from any of these conditions, and this list is not exhaustive. There are many other conditions that can be experienced alongside endometriosis, however I couldn’t cover all of them this month. If there is a specific condition that I have not covered, but you would like a blog post on please let me know either by leaving a comment below or by sending me a message. Today’s blog post is about PCOS.
PCOS stands for Poly Cystic Ovary Syndrome and is a condition where your ovaries become enlarged and contain many fluid-filled sacs (follicles) that surround the eggs. One in five women are thought to have PCOS, but more than half of these women show no symptoms. Typically, symptoms start to show during late teens to early twenties and some of the most common symptoms are:
Irregular or no periods
Difficulty with excessive hair growth
Thinning hair or hair loss
Oily skin or acne
Contrary to what the name suggests, if you have PCOS you don’t necessarily have cysts on your ovaries. Your ovaries contain a large number of harmless follicles that are up to 8mm in size. These follicles are undeveloped sacs that eggs would usually develop inside. With PCOS, these sacs are often unable to release an egg, meaning ovulation does not take place and periods are either irregular or non-existent.
The exact cause of PCOS is still unknown, but it often runs in families. It is thought to be related to abnormal levels of hormones in the body, including insulin. Many women with PCOS are resistant to the action of insulin in their body, this causes the body to produce higher levels of insulin to overcome this, which in turn, contributes to the increased production, and activity of hormones such as testosterone. Women with PCOS also have an increased risk of developing health problems later in life, such as high cholesterol levels and type 2 diabetes.
Similarly to endometriosis, there is currently no cure for PCOS, but the symptoms can be treated. If you are overweight then losing weight and a balanced diet can provide relief. There are also different options of medication to help with symptoms such as hair growth, irregular periods and fertility problems. If there is still no improvement to fertility a laparoscopic ovarian drilling surgery (LOD) may be recommended. This is where heat or a laser is used to destroy tissue on the ovaries that is producing androgens such as testosterone.
With treatment, the majority of women with PCOS are able to get pregnant. As with many conditions, knowledge and early intervention are the best ways to give yourself the best fertility odds and ease your symptoms.