Though extremely common among women, polycystic ovary syndrome or PCOS can be difficult to diagnose for two reasons: 1) There isn't a single PCOS test a doctor can simply do to reach that conclusion and 2) It shares similar symptoms to other conditions as it is a multi-organ disease. This is why some people who don't go on regular check-ups find out they have PCOS only when they're trying to conceive. During an ultrasound, those with PCOS would be see multiple cysts on their ovaries. Despite the fact that five to 10 percent of women have this condition, PCOS is still largely left undiagnosed (and therefore untreated).
PCOS risk factors: What exactly happens to your body when you have PCOS?
According to Dr. Rebecca Singson, an OB/GYN, PCOS occurs when you have an insulin-resistance gene. Btw, insulin is the hormone that controls sugar metabolism. The insulin attaches to receptors like a key and unlocks the sugar molecules that enter your cell. There, the sugar is burned. For people with PCOS, the number of receptors decrease as you get older, which means fewer landing sites for insulin, less doors to open for sugar, and less sugar metabolized by your cell. All that excess sugar goes to your liver and pancreas; the liver turns it into fat, which explains the weight gain that some PCOS patients experience.
People with PCOS can also have higher levels of androgens (male hormones), which can result in to physical signs like male-pattern facial and body hair (hirsutism).
PCOS risk factors: What happens when PCOS is untreated?
LifeScience Center's Dr. Arugay-Magat says, "If PCOS is left untreated, then it also means that insulin resistance and inflammation are left untreated, too. This can give rise to problems such as diabetes, infertility, cancers, or osteoporosis. And because it is a systemic disorder, then your other diseases may also worsen."
Women with PCOS can also develop serious health issues like: heart disease, high blood pressure (which damages the heart, brain, and kidneys), sleep apnea (a disorder that causes breathing to stop during sleep), and even a stroke. Depression, anxiety, and eating disorders have also been linked to PCOS, though further research needs to be done.
PCOS risk factors: What can you do?
Obesity has been associated with PCOS, so one lifestyle change you can make is to regulate your food intake. Help your body adjust to this condition by following a low-carb diet; simple cards like white bread, white rice, and pasta are harder to break down. Avoid insulin spikes by incorporating more vegetables and clean proteins to your diet.
Regular exercise can also keep PCOS under control. A review found that working out can improve ovulation, reduce insulin resistance, and lead to weight loss. Also, more muscle mass can metabolize glucose (sugar), which can be beneficial.
Don't forget to consult your doctor so you two can come up with a proper plan to tackle this condition.