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What Causes PCOS? How Can I Treat it?

Polycystic ovary syndrome, also called PCOS and polycystic ovarian syndrome, is a common condition among women of childbearing age. Most women become aware that they have it when they’re trying to get pregnant, because PCOS is one of the most common causes of infertility. At Women’s Health Care Center, PLLC, in Helena, Montana, our OB/GYN doctors can help you deal with PCOS. Our provider, Rebecca Moore, specifically focuses on PCOS and is accepting new patients at this time.  

Other symptoms of PCOS, which affects 10% of women of childbearing age, include excess facial and boy hair, irregular periods, weight gain, thinning hair, and acne. PCOS may also cause small fluid-filled sacs, called cysts, in the ovaries.

What causes PCOS?

Medical experts are not entirely sure what causes PCOS, but they do know that people with it tend to have elevated levels of the male hormone androgen, which results in many of the symptoms such as facial hair and weight gain. Other commonalities among people with PCOS include:

Excess insulin

Insulin is the hormone that your body produces to help convert glucose, or sugar, into energy. If your body can’t use this insulin effectively, it thinks it needs more insulin, creating an excess of the hormone that builds up in your blood sugar. Experts believe this excess insulin may lead to an increase in androgen production and type 2 diabetes.

Low-grade inflammation

Women with PCOS may have low-grade inflammation that stimulates polycystic ovaries to produce androgens, leading to heart and blood vessel problems.

Obesity

It’s not clear if PCOS can increase your risk of obesity or if obese women are at a higher risk of developing PCOS. But women who are obese are more likely to have PCOS.

Genetics

Women who have a sister, aunt, or mother with PCOS are more likely to develop the condition. 

How to treat PCOS

There is no cure for PCOS, but you can manage your symptoms so they don’t interfere with your life. Your treatment plan will depend on your symptoms. If you’re having trouble getting pregnant, your treatment plan may include medications to help stimulate ovulation, surgery, and in vitro fertilization, commonly called IVF.

If you don’t want to get pregnant, your doctor may prescribe birth control pills to help make your period more regular, reduce unwanted facial hair growth, and eliminate acne. If you have diabetes or prediabetes, your doctor may prescribe metformin to treat it on its own or in addition to other medications.

Lifestyle modifications such as losing weight and eating a healthy diet can help reduce symptoms and help you get pregnant. Losing weight may also increase the effectiveness of medications.

If you’ve noticed PCOS symptoms or are having trouble getting pregnant, contact Women’s Health Care Center today for an appointment. 

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