GREENVILLE, SC (WSPA)– September is Polycystic Ovary Syndrome Awareness Month.
PCOS is a genetic, hormone, metabolic and reproductive disorder that affects women and girls.
As part of our “Ask the Expert” series, in partnership with Bon Secours St. Francis Health, 7 News’ Taylor Murray spoke with a women’s health nurse practitioner about the symptoms and treating the disorder.
Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, or PCOS, is a condition in which the ovaries produce an abnormal amount of androgens– which are male sex hormones that are usually present in women in small amounts.
“It’s a hormonal disorder that’s super common in women of childbearing age.”Danielle Andrews / Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner, Bon Secours St. Francis Health
Danielle Andrews, a Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner, says some women with PCOS have cysts on their ovaries. That’s why it’s called polycystic. However, the name is misleading because there are some women with PCOS who don’t have cysts.
“Women can have various symptoms across the spectrum. Some women will have irregular periods… they won’t ovulate like they’re supposed to,” Andrews said.
This is the reason that PCOS is the leading cause of infertility in women.
“If you don’t ovulate monthly, it can lead to difficulty getting pregnant. A lot of times women with PCOS will come to us saying, I’m trying to get pregnant. My cycles are irregular. I’ve missed a couple of cycles. Something is wrong. Help me!”Danielle Andrews / Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner, Bon Secours St. Francis Health
There is help for women with PCOS who are trying to get pregnant. Fertility treatments are an option as well as a diabetes medication, which is proven to reduce androgen production in the ovaries.
“That can be done with metformin. Which can help to improve the ovulatory dysfunction and get you back to ovulating regularly and can restore normal menstrual cycles,” Andrews said.
Andrews says that medication can also be used to treat insulin resistance, which is common in women with PCOS.
Lifestyle changes at home can also help improve symptoms.
“Weight loss, increasing exercise, watching the intake of carbohydrates and sugars all can help to improve underlying insulin resistance,” Andrews said.
Possible signs of PCOS are acne and facial hair growth. If you believe you are struggling with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, you should schedule an appointment with your OBGYN. If you do not have one, reach out to your primary care doctor.
To submit a health topic for our Ask the Expert series, click here.