PCOS: one main cause for infertility among women


According to the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) is the most common cause of infertility in women. Yet, a large group of women is still unaware of the condition, its effects, and dangers to their health.

In Guyana, PCOS is not often openly discussed but as with other reproductive health conditions, it affects quite a number of women in Guyana.
For this reason, organisations like the Cysterhood Support-Guyana, a local non-profit that caters to women living with PCOS has been using its resources, particularly during the month of September, which is designated as PCOS Awareness Month, to raise awareness and increase education about the condition.
This month, the group will educate the public, particularly girls and young women, about PCOS and PCOS-related issues.
According to Kimberley Manbodh, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Cysterhood Support-Guyana, the sensitisation activities will include spreading information through the virtual question and answer segment; its (wear) teal Tuesday activity where persons can wear that colour to show support for those affected by PCOS and its advocacy Sunday event. Information on the activities is publicised via the group’s social media (Facebook) platform. Throughout September, the support group is looking to engage the public in interactive ways via the various awareness sessions.
Meanwhile, even as the number of women affected by PCOS locally is not known, global statistics states that PCOS is a health problem that affects one in every ten women of childbearing age.
According to information from the CDC, women with PCOS have a hormonal imbalance and metabolism problems that may affect their overall health and appearance. However, while the exact cause of PCOS is unknown, it is treatable.

Not all women with PCOS will have all of the symptoms, and each symptom can vary from mild to severe. Some women only experience menstrual problems or are unable to conceive, or both.

Common symptoms of PCOS include:

  • irregular periods or no periods at all
  • difficulty getting pregnant (because of irregular ovulation or failure to ovulate)
  • excessive hair growth (hirsutism) – usually on the face, chest, back or buttocks
  • weight gain
  • thinning hair and hair loss from the head
  • oily skin or acne

The information notes that while most experts suggest that several factors, including genetics, play a role in the causation of PCOS, high levels of androgens, “male hormones”, in a woman is one of them. Androgens or the male hormones can prevent her ovaries from releasing an egg (ovulation) during each menstrual cycle.
Another factor the CDC noted is high levels of insulin in women. Insulin is a hormone that controls the conversion of carbs into energy. Insulin resistance occurs when the body’s cells do not respond normally to insulin resulting in higher than normal insulin levels.
The CDC said that many women with PCOS have insulin resistance, especially those who are overweight or obese, have unhealthy eating habits, do not get enough physical activity, and have a family history of diabetes (usually type 2 diabetes). Over time, insulin resistance can lead to type 2 diabetes.
As regards the diagnosis, the US-based organisation said that there is no single test to diagnose PCOS. To help diagnose PCOS and rule out other causes of symptoms seen, the CDC said that doctors must explore a patient’s medical history and do a thorough physical exam along with different tests, which includes: physical exam of body mass index (BMI), waist size, skin for extra hair on face, chest or back, acne, or skin discoloration or any hair loss or signs of other health conditions, such as an enlarged thyroid gland. Pelvic exam for signs of extra male hormones is also recommended, for example, for an enlarged clitoris.
Meanwhile, the CDC emphasized that there is no cure for PCOS, but the symptoms of PCOS can be managed. “A treatment plan is developed based on a person’s symptoms, desire to have children, and risk of long-term health problems,” the information added. (Kaieteur News)


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