Reproductive Associates of Delaware Fact Sheet What is polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS)?

November 10, 2011

Many women present with significant ovulation problems that may indicate an underlying issue with their metabolism and nutrition.

Many women present with significant ovulation problems that may indicate an underlying issue with their metabolism and nutrition. The common symptoms that may indicate polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) include very irregular or absent periods (100%), large and cystic ovaries (95%), obesity (75%), problems with excessive body hair growth and/or acne (70%), cholesterol and/or triglyceride abnormalities (70%), and a strong family history of diabetes, hypertension, heart diseases, obesity, and irregular periods (100%).

It has been demonstrated that PCOS is due to an underlying metabolic problem known as insulin resistance. When the body's muscle and fat tissues become resistant to insulin action, the pancreas produces increasing amounts of insulin, leading to very high insulin levels. The high insulin levels tend to produce food cravings, particularly in the form of carbohydrates, making the cycle continue. High insulin levels make weight loss virtually impossible, and tend to promote weight gain. High insulin levels also drive the ovary to produce high amounts of male hormone (androgens), and cause follicles to literally die before they release mature eggs. As such, multiple cysts form in the ovaries, and no healthy eggs are released. Thus, infertility and a lack of ovulation are the hallmarks of PCOS.

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The physicians at Reproductive Associates of Delaware take the issue of PCOS extremely seriously, with clinical research efforts targeted towards the insulin resistance issue. It is possible to provide a detailed evaluation and treatment regimen for women with PCOS, and the prognosis for achieving a healthy pregnancy and a healthier lifestyle is good.