Women's Health Texas – Austin

PCOS, Polycystic Ovary Syndrome

PCOS affects about 10% of women during their reproductive years

PCOS, or polycystic ovary syndrome, causes several problems, including irregular periods and fertility problems. Our Austin PCOS specialists have the expertise and training to diagnose and treat this syndrome. PCOS primarily strikes women of childbearing age, but it sometimes affects girls before they begin puberty.

A hormonal disorder

Physicians and researchers do not know the exact cause of polycystic ovary syndrome, but they do know that it is related to the following factors:

  • Insulin resistance is a problem that leads to elevated levels of glucose in the body, which can ultimately result in diabetes.
  • Increased levels of androgens, sometimes known as male hormones, cause ovulation problems, acne and excess hair growth.

Signs and symptoms of PCOS

The symptoms of PCOS differ for each woman, but women with this syndrome will experience one or more of the following:

  • Infrequent ovulation, which leads to irregular periods. Infrequent ovulation causes a variety of problems.
    • Sometimes, it causes multiple cysts in the ovaries. These ovarian cysts are small follicles that never become large enough to release an egg or ovulate.
    • When infrequent ovulation occurs, it contributes to fertility problems.
    • It can also cause a build-up of the uterine lining, or endometrium.
  • According to the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, up to 80% of women who have polycystic ovary syndrome are obese.1
  • Hirsutism, or excess hair growth. Excessive amounts of hair may appear on the chest, face, abdomen or upper thighs.
  • Acne and oily skin
  • Acanthosis nigricans refers to the velvety, thickened patches of dark skin.

In addition to diabetes and fertility problems, health risks associated with PCOS include high triglycerides, high blood pressure and endometrial cancer, if a build-up of the uterine lining is untreated for too long.

Our physicians have the training to treat polycystic ovary syndrome effectively

Our Austin PCOS specialists diagnose PCOS by performing a physical examination and a pelvic exam, and discussing the patient’s symptoms and medical history. Ultrasounds and blood tests can help confirm the diagnosis.

The first line of treatment for PCOS in women who are not trying to become pregnant is birth control pills. If a patient cannot take this type of contraceptive, our physicians may recommend oral progesterone or an IUD.

Patients may also need to take spironolactone to suppress androgens and help with excessive hair growth and acne. Another medication our Austin OBGYNs prescribe for women with PCOS who have elevated glucose levels is metformin to lower their blood sugar.

Your Austin PCOS specialist may encourage you to lose weight by eating a healthy diet and exercising. A 10% to 15% weight reduction often regulates menstrual cycles, resolves insulin resistance issues, and decreases the risk of other complications, such as prediabetes and high blood pressure.

Make an appointment with an Austin PCOS specialist at Women’s Health Texas, and get help for your symptoms. Contact us to schedule your visit.