PCOS Beyond Infertility

Last week I wrote about the effect polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) has on a woman’s fertility and how Clomid is very effective in overcoming issues with ovulation. But there are many androgen hormone effects of PCOS that can affect a woman’s general health. These issues are well outlined in an online article on U.S News.

PCOS, which affects about 15 percent of women of reproductive age, doesn’t always involve excess androgens, and when it does, the increase is typically slight, explains Dr. Anuja Dokras, a professor of OB-GYN at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania who directs the Penn PCOS transdisciplinary research program. “Androgens are hormones, and they’re present in both men and women, but the different testosterone levels in women compared to men is multifold,” Dokras says. “In PCOS, women have slightly higher androgens – it’s really the upper end of the [normal] range or a little more; it’s never in the male hormone range.”

But even that slight uptick can have devastating consequences. Not only do PCOS and other androgen excess disorders often lead to confidence-shattering side effects like male-pattern hair growth, hair loss, acne and weight gain, but studies have also linked PCOS specifically to serious long-term health problems that are often related to the condition’s effect on insulin resistance and link to obesity. In fact, research suggests that if left untreated, nearly 50 percent of women with PCOS will develop diabetes before age 40. They’re also more likely to be hospitalized, to develop cancer and have a much higher risk for heart disease than women without the condition. This is in addition to PCOS being a leading cause of infertility according to the PCOS Awareness Association.

But if managed effectively, women can live long, productive lives and aren’t guaranteed to develop all, if any, of the related health conditions. My advice to woman to deal with the issues of PCOS beyond fertility is to have close monitoring of their health by a physician knowledgeable in the non-fertility issues of PCOS.

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