PolyCystic Ovarian Syndrome
This is the first part in a multi-part series on PCOS. I care for many women with PCOS and they've told me that there isn't a lot of information that's easily understood available.
What women with PCOS may notice:
• Too much hair in places you don't want it, like the upper lip, chin, around the breasts and tummy
• Difficulty losing weight
• No periods, irregular periods or 1 -2 each year
• Darkened skin around the neck and/or armpits
• Inability to become pregnant
What your provider may notice
• Elevated levels of LH (Luteinizing hormone)
• Lowered FSH (Follicle Stimulating hormone)
• On an ultrasound, 10 or more cysts on one or both ovaries. This is how PCOS got it's name. Poly means many. When there are many cysts, there are Poly Cysts.
• There may be a slightly increased testosterone level
If you suspect that you have PCOS, or have infrequent or absent periods it's best to discuss this with your provider. Ask for an ultrasound and the following blood work to rule out other causes:
• A thyroid test - as 10% of women have some type of issue with their thyroid gland
• A prolactin test - this measures a hormone from the pituitary gland that can interfere with normal ovulation and periods
• An FSH (Follicle Stimulating hormone) and LH (Luteinizing hormone)
Stay tuned, each week, we'll go into more depth on PCOS, the treatments and what to be concerned about.
Barb Dehn is a Women's Health Nurse Practitioner with over 20 years of experience. She lectures at Stanford, is an in-demand national speaker and appears regularly on ABC's View from the Bay in San Francisco. Barb has dedicated herself to Empowering Women with Information that's practical, funny and to the point.
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