Give PCOS the Spotlight It Deserves

Did you know PCOS impacts between 12 and 21% of women in Australia?

PCOS can affect the overall health of women and reduces their chances of conceiving naturally. What’s more shocking than the prevalence of PCOS is that up to 70% of women remain undiagnosed and hence don’t realise that many of the symptoms like acne, irregular periods, psychological symptoms of depression, infertility or subfertility and obesity are associated with this condition. PCOS can be successfully managed and having a chat with us, your Bowral doctors, can help with proper assessment, diagnosis and management of PCOS symptoms.

What Is PCOS?

PCOS or Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome is a condition in which women have hormonal imbalance which may result in irregular periods and may make them struggle to conceive (get pregnant). Such women may present with diabetes, heart disease. The three main features of PCOS include;

  • Excess levels of male hormones
  • Multiple cysts in the ovaries
  • Irregular or skipped periods

Some of the common symptoms of women experiencing PCOS include irregular periods, acne, weight gain, unusual facial hair or male pattern baldness, difficulty getting pregnant, headaches,

What causes PCOS?

Doctors don’t know exactly what causes PCOS but there have been significant links to genes, insulin resistance and inflammation.

How is PCOS diagnosed?

There is no specific test to diagnose PCOS, but your doctor may typically ask about symptoms of irregular menstrual cycles, weight gain, face and body hair growth etc. A pelvic exam may be conducted, blood tests and an ultrasound looking at your ovaries may be requested from Bowral Medical Imaging, Highlands Xray or South East Radiology.

Fertility and PCOS 

According to a recent research report, 70 to 80% of women with PCOS are struggling with fertility issues, and 30 to 50% of women with PCOS are affected by miscarriages in the first trimester. Women with PCOS are twice as likely to experience premature labour and also at increased risk of hypertension in pregnancy or gestational diabetes.

Management of PCOS

There is no specific treatment for PCOS, but symptoms can be reversed by making lifestyle changes such as weight loss, healthy diet and exercises. Losing just 5-10% of body weight has been found to promote ovulation, improve cholesterol levels, reduce high blood pressure and risk if heart diseases and decrease insulin resistance.

If lifestyle changes are not making satisfactory improvement, our Bowral doctors, may recommend and prescribe medications such as metformin or clomiphene citrate to stimulate ovulation. FSH (Follicle Stimulating Hormone) is injected in non-respondents to this medication.

If a woman doesn’t respond to any of the above medications, Laparoscopic ovarian surgery may be performed. This is a one time, minimally invasive surgery, with 50% of women undergoing this surgery achieving conception within a year. Because women experiencing PCOS are more likely to suffer from depression, anxiety, poor self esteem and psychosexual dysfunction, your doctor will generally screen for this.

More information can be available from our team at Walker Street General Practice or the Bowral Community Health Centre.