PCOS: Polycystic Ovary Syndrome Scan
We perform scans that can help diagnose PCOS or Polycystic Ovary Syndrome
Exam Time: 20-30 minutes
Exam Price: €150 (Medical card: €130.00)
Polycystic Ovary Syndrome: What You Need to Know
Thinning hair on your head, and unwanted hair growing everywhere else. Weight gain. Fatigue. Irregular, heavy, or missed periods. Acne and skin tags. All of these are symptoms of Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS).
What is PCOS?
PCOS is a hormonal disorder that affects 1 in 10 women of childbearing age. Though symptoms can appear any time after puberty, many women do not discover that they have PCOS until their 20s or 30s, after they’ve had trouble becoming pregnant.
Polycystic ovary syndrome occurs when a woman’s body produces more male hormones than normal.
What role do hormones play in PCOS?
Hormones are the body’s chemical messengers. They travel from place to place within the body via the bloodstream and give orders to most major systems. Hormones control everything from hunger to reproduction.
In PCOS, a woman’s body creates too many antigens (male hormones). Though all women produce a small amount of antigens, the excess supply that accompanies PCOS interferes with the function of the ovaries. The ovaries may stop releasing eggs (ovulating), or release them infrequently. Most women with PCOS develop many cysts on their ovaries, hence the name Polycystic ovary syndrome.
Though it is unclear exactly why PCOS can also affect a woman’s insulin levels. Insulin is a hormone that allows your body to use sugar. Insulin resistance, caused by PCOS, can cause weight gain and ultimately lead to diabetes.
What causes Polycystic Ovary Syndrome?
Researchers are uncertain what causes PCOS. Possible causes include:
Heredity: PCOS is often found in women in the same family, suggesting a genetic link.
Excess Insulin: If the body cannot process insulin, insulin builds up in the bloodstream. This is known as insulin resistance. Excess insulin may lead to increased antigen production.
Inflammation: Inflammation occurs when the white blood cells are called into action to fight infection. Many women with PCOS have low-grade inflammation. It’s is believed that this inflammation may cause the ovaries to produce excess androgens.
How is PCOS diagnosed?
No single test is used to diagnose PCOS. Instead, your doctor may perform a variety of tests and procedures to rule out other possibilities and provide you with a diagnosis.
- A physical exam: Your doctor will examine your skin for skin tags, discoloration, excess hair, and acne – all symptoms of PCOS. He or she will also weigh you and check to see if your Body Mass Index is appropriate for your age.
- A pelvic exam: Your doctor may perform a pelvic exam to determine if your ovaries are enlarged or swollen.
- Blood tests: Blood tests can determine the level of androgens in your body. Blood tests can also be used to check for diabetes, and rule out other issues such as thyroid dysfunction, that may be causing your symptoms.
- Pelvic ultrasound: A pelvic ultrasound uses sound waves to allow your doctor to look at your ovaries and uterus and check for cysts or other abnormalities.
Complications of PCOS
In addition to unpleasant symptoms such as thinning hair, excess facial, chest, and back hair, weight gain, dark patches of skin, skin tags, and heavy or irregular periods, PCOS can lead to more serious complications. These include:
- Type 2 diabetes
- Gestational diabetes
- Nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (liver inflammation caused by the accumulation of fat in the liver)
- Endometrial cancer
- Depression and anxiety
PCOS and Pregnancy
Though PCOS can make getting pregnant difficult, it is one of the most treatable forms of infertility in women. The hormonal imbalance that occurs with PCOS interferes with the growth and release of eggs. Many women with PCOS do not ovulate, and therefore cannot become pregnant on their own. Treatments are available to help you ovulate and increase your chances of getting pregnant.
Treatment of PCOS
There is no cure for PCOS. However, treatments exist to manage the symptoms.
- Hormonal birth control can make periods more regular, lower the risk of endometrial cancer, and improve acne and reduce extra body hair.
- Anti-androgen medicines can reduce body hair, help with thinning hair on the head, and reduce acne.
In addition, losing excess weight (though it can be difficult with PCOS) can reduce many PCOS symptoms and even improve your chances of becoming pregnant.