In addition to this, the condition has two other main components. The first is irregular periods, which are caused by the ovaries not releasing eggs regularly. The second is a higher than normal level of male hormones in the body, which causes the symptom of excess facial or body hair (hirsutism).
Symptoms and Diagnosis:
In addition to hirsutism, other symptoms include irregular periods or absence of a period, infertility, weight gain, loss or thinning of the hair on the head, and acne. The condition also comes with an increased risk of other health problems later in life, such as high cholesterol and type 2 diabetes. The condition may be diagnosed through blood tests to check hormone levels, and possibly an ultrasound scan.
Causes, Symptoms and Treatment:
The causes of PCOS are unknown. It often affects more than one family member. There is a relationship between the condition and high levels of insulin, the hormone that controls sugar levels. In women with PCOS, there is a resistance to the action of insulin, which leads to overproduction.
This in turn also triggers the overproduction of testosterone. Weight gain or overweight can also affect the production of insulin, leading to exacerbation of symptoms. Possible treatments include lifestyle changes, hormone-based medicines, and surgery, but these will all depend on your individual situation and needs.
What to do next
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Abnormal bleeding can include very long periods (of more than seven days), or a menstrual cycle of less than 25 and more than 31 days (i.e., the first days of bleeding are less than 25 or more than 31 days apart). Menstrual cramps are normal (dysmenorrhoea), but it is best to speak to a doctor should you experience a sudden intensification or severity in cramping. Any symptoms which are interfering with your ability to go about your daily activities are worthy of a visit to the doctor.
A number of different conditions can affect the menstrual cycle. You may have irregular hormone levels, cysts or fibroids, PCOS, or functional uterine problems. It is impossible to know for sure without speaking to a doctor, and it is always best to get checked out if you are noticing anything unusual.
It is a good idea to make a note in your calendar of the first day of your bleed, and of how long you bleed for. If you are noticing unusual symptoms, it can be helpful to note these too, as this will help your doctor to understand any ongoing patterns or changes in your cycle.