You went to the doctor because your periods were very irregular and you were having difficulty conceiving. Your doctor noticed acne and hair growth on your face, and suspected something else might be going on. Tests determined you weren’t ovulating, and confirmed the doctor’s suspicions of polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS).
Polycystic ovary syndrome is the most common hormonal and reproductive problem affecting women of childbearing age. It's estimated that about 5-10% percent of women in the U.S. have PCOS.
According to endocrinologist, Emily Jungheim, MD, MSCI, “The disorder is characterized by fewer than eight periods a year and signs of elevated androgens, such as acne and excess hair growth on the face and abdomen.
While infertility is often what brings women with PCOS in for evaluation, PCOS has important implications for long-term cardiovascular health. The condition is also a prominent risk factor for diabetes and the development of endometrial cancer.”
Given the myriad of long-term health risks associated with PCOS, it is important that women with the condition get diagnosed early and that they arm themselves with education about the condition. It is essential that they follow up with their health care provider regularly.
No one knows what exactly causes PCOS, but it is generally associated with inefficient glucose metabolism. Lifestyle interventions consisting of a PCOS-friendly diet and regular exercise are often mainstays of PCOS management, but there are medications that may also be helpful in managing PCOS and its symptoms.
For more information about PCOS, or to make an appointment with Dr. Jungheim, please call (314) 286-2400.
Patients are seen at the Infertility and Reproductive Medicine Center, 4444 Forest Park Ave., Suite 3100.