Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome or Stein - Leventhal

Also called Stein-Leventhal syndrome, the polycystic ovarian syndrome is in fact a hormonal imbalance that affects the ovulation process. Women who suffer from polycystic ovarian syndrome may experience the following: irregular menstruation, excessive hair on face and body, infertility, metabolism-related diseases.

Causes

The cause of the hormonal imbalance that leads to the polycystic ovarian syndrome is not very accurately determined yet.

A very influential factor seems to be genetics: there are 50% more chances to develop this disease if your mother or sister suffers from it.

Also, another factor that contributes to multiple cysts in the ovaries is abnormal insulin (a vital hormone produced by the pancreas) production and other metabolic problems.

Symptoms

Early symptoms can include: having rare menstrual cycles (less than five in a whole year, or not at all), abnormal vaginal bleeding, excess hair in uncommon areas (face, chest, knuckles, back), skin problems (acne, oily skin, dandruff), mood swings or depression, obesity.

If the disease is more advanced and left untreated, more severe symptoms can arise: pain in the lower abdomen, fat deposits around the stomach, infertility, a growing risk of developing diabetes, hair fall.

Treatment

The PCOS itself is not treatable. The main treatment consists in diminishing the symptoms and thus regulating the hormone levels by administering estrogen and progesterone. Also, depending on the case, the medic can recommend a treatment suited for the skin problems that appear. Treating the growth of excess hair can be done by physically removing the unwanted hair (by using several methods: mechanical, chemical, or by laser) or by taking antiandrogens.

A lifestyle change can help reduce the symptoms of PCOS, especially if it concentrates on losing weight and accelerating the metabolism. 75% of women suffering from PCOS that have lost weight started to ovulate and became fertile again.

Maintaining the health of the ovaries and the fertility is very important. Weight loss, exercise and a balanced diet, low in fats, can be of great help.

PCOS diet

Chose olive oil or fish oil, as they contain Omega-3 fats, that are vital for the human organism. Also, elliminate hydrogenated fats (margarine, cookies, crackers, baked goods) from your diet .

Switch to low-fat protein sources: fish, non-fat cheese, turkey and chicken. If you are a vegetarian, you can choose plant-based protein sources like soy and rice protein powders. As for carbohydrates, pick low-glycemic carbohydrate sources: grains, nuts, seeds, vegetables and fruit.

Drink plenty of fluids also: according to some studies, green tea contains certain substances that can diminish the effects of testosterone, which, in women, can cause hirsutism.

Medication

Treatment of PCOS-caused problems can include: administering hromones (estrogen and progesterone) found in oral contraceptive pills, metformin (stimulates insulin uptake; it can be more effective if combined with weight loss), Spironolactone (a diuretic that treats hirsutism).

Surgery

Because it affects fertility, PCOS can be somewhat treated by removing a part from the affected ovary, in order to stimulate fertility. If the patient does not wish to remain pregnant, the ovaries can be completely removed. Surgery is only recommended if other kinds of treatment have not shown any results and there are risks of developing other long-term complications.

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