PCOS, Polycystic Ovaries

Polycystic ovaries can affect people in different ways and in varying degrees. Here at The Surrey Park Clinic we specialise in the diagnosis and treatment of PCOS.

What is Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS)?

It is a collection of symptoms including the formation of small cysts within the ovary. In a normal ovary a batch of follicles begins to develop each month, one or two of which will mature and release one or two eggs, whilst the remaining follicles die off. Abnormally high levels of insulin in the blood stream, (the hormone responsible for keeping blood sugar levels steady), stops these follicles from dying off.

What are the symptoms?

Polycycstic ovaries - PCOSThese can vary greatly in type and severity and not all symptoms occur in all women which is why it is important to seek a professional diagnosis.

Classic symptoms

  • Irregular or absent periods
    (30% to 50% of women)
  • Problems in getting pregnant (20% to 30%)
  • Weight gain
    (especially around the abdomen / above waist)
  • Loss of scalp hair
  • Excessive hair growth on face or body
  • Acne

Other symptoms can include

  • Hot flushes, night sweats, panic attacks, palpitations, poor sleep/sudden wakening, vivid dreams/nightmares
  • Bladder problems including irritable bladder, urinary frequency/urgency, stress incontinence, vaginal dryness, recurrent thrush, lack of sexual interest, vaginal discharge
  • Joint pain, dry eyes, dry nose, dry mouth, dry vagina, dry ears, blurred vision, brittle nails, thirsty, increased facial/body hair
  • Bowel problems including disordered bowel motility, early morning nausea, metallic taste/burning mouth, reflux/oesophageal damage, bloating, irritable bowel, bowel pain
  • Blood flow symptoms/syndrome x, headaches, chest pain, leg cramps, fidgety legs
  • Fluid retention, tingling fingers and toes, puffiness, water retention, breast tenderness
  • Symptoms of oestrogen deficiency due to poor follicle development
  • Mood Concentration/psychological symptoms of tiredness, lethargy, mood swings, aggressive/short fuse, depressed/low feeling, paranoid/negative feelings, loss of confidence, reduced memory/concentration, disorientated/out of body feeling, clumsiness

Other risks

Due to the link of PCOS with Insulin Resistance, there may also be an increased risk of the following:

  • Heart and vascular disease including stroke and dementia
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Reproductive cancers
  • Miscarriage
  • Infertility
  • Obesity is associated with Insulin Resistance and PCOS, but not in all women

Causes of PCOS

Whilst the exact cause is unknown, Insulin Resistance seems to be important factor, particularly in women who are overweight. In essence those with PCOS tend to be resistant to insulin that is released by the pancreas to control sugars in the bloodstream. Higher levels of insulin are needed to act on the sugars in the fat and muscle cells, but the increased insulin levels cause the ovaries to produce too much testosterone. The effect of the excess insulin and testosterone is to interfere with the development of the follicles, leading to a lack of ovulation.

How is PCOS diagnosed?

  • Ultrasound scan
  • Symptoms such as raised waist hip ratio
  • Blood tests: raised levels of the pituitary hormone, luteinising hormone (LH), abnormal fasting levels of insulin in relation to glucose, abnormal levels of insulin in response to a 75 gram glucose drink as part of a fasting glucose tolerance test.
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At the Surrey Park Clinic, we are specialists in the diagnosis and treatment of Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) and offer personalised care at our accessible clinic at a time to suit you. Please call 01483 454 016 to arrange your consultation.

Treatments for Polycystic ovaries

The aim of the treatment is to improve insulin resistance by a means of diet and medication. In some instances surgery may be required (see below)

Diet

A change in diet makes a great difference to insulin resistance and to the response of medication. Snacking/ high carbohydrate diets worsen insulin production and therefore if the diet is abnormal, medication will not work.

Medication

Oestradiol As many symptoms are associated with lack of oestrogen, initially replacing this with oestradiol, (not the Pill which is ethinyl oestradiol and synthetic), helps correct symptoms in the short term whilst insulin resistance and the body’s own hormones are being corrected in the long term. Oestrogen preparations best suited to treat this include those which go directly into the blood stream including gel, patches, and implants.

Metformin/Glitazones These are medications which work by improving the bodies sensitivity and response to insulin;  the resultant effect being a reduction in the levels of insulin produced by the pancreas.

Surgery

Ovarian diathermy (also known as laparoscopic ovarian drilling). The multiple small cysts within the ovaries can allow the natural development of the follicle to restart again. Ovarian drilling is performed during an operation at the time of a laparoscopy. This requires a general anaesthetic and an in-patient hospital stay, (usually overnight). The procedure particularly helps with relief from ‘androgenic’ or ‘male related’ symptoms, (e.g. acne and facial hair).

What makes Insulin Resistance / PCOS worse?

  • High Carbohydrate diet and high fat diets
  • Snacking
  • Sedentary lifestyle
  • Weight gain
  • Genetic pre disposition (family history of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, hormone problems, miscarriage)
  • Some medications (the Pill, Beta blockers, Progesterone)
  • Puberty
  • Pregnancy and breast feeding
  • Lack of ovarian hormones e.g. Menopause
  • Stress
  • Vegetarianism
  • Ovarian failure
  • Androgen failure
  • Advancing age
  • High Carbohydrate / sugary diet as a child
  • Grazing/ Snacking as a child

What makes Insulin Resistance / PCOS better?

  • Higher Protein, lower carbohydrate, non snack diet
  • Metformin and Glitazones (in conjunction with diet correction only)
  • Improving oestrogen levels where oestrogen is deficient
  • Diathermy of persisting abnormal follicles on the ovary
  • Weight loss
  • Exercise

 

Related topics Insulin Resistance, Miscarriage, Infertility, Dietary Advice, PCOS Screening



Your consultation and personal treatment plan

We treat each individual patient with care and consideration. We listen to your worries and concerns and offer expert advice and guidance so that you can make informed decisions about your treatment options. Call 01483 454 016 to speak to one of our team and book your consultation.