Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome Program

Lexington Women's Health is pleased to offer a Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome Program (PCOS). Our program is designed to offer total support to the PCOS patient. For further information or to schedule an appointment please call our office at 859-264-8811.

What is PCOS?

PCOS is a lifelong condition that appears to be caused by abnormal insulin function resulting in hormonal abnormalities. It may result in symptoms that differ from person to person and within the same person over a lifetime. Although originally named for ovarian cysts, large painful cysts are uncommon in patients with PCOS. The cysts of PCOS are usually small and painless.

What are the common symptoms of PCOS?

The symptoms of polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) vary among women. Some of the symptoms of include:

  • Absent, irregular or heavy periods
  • Excess hair growth
  • Acne
  • Weight gain or difficulty losing weight
  • Difficulty getting pregnant/Infertility

What are the long term health risks of PCOS?

  • Obesity
  • Diabetes
  • Scarring from acne
  • Increasing male hair pattern
  • Uterine cancer

Who gets PCOS?

Women of every age have PCOS. The symptoms start to appear at the age of puberty and often get worse over a lifetime if not treated appropriately.

PCOS is the most common endocrine abnormality in reproductive aged women affecting approximately 5-10% of this population. More than 10 million women may have PCOS and not even know it. Early treatment is key to preventing long term health problems, and unfortunately most sufferers don't even know they have PCOS.

Women who are diagnosed with PCOS may have symptoms of PCOS, but no cysts on their ovaries. Similarly, some women have cysts on their ovaries but no symptoms of PCOS.

What causes PCOS?

Although the cause of PCOS is not known, it appears that PCOS may be related to different factors working together. These factors include insulin resistance, increased levels of androgens, and an irregular menstrual cycle.

-The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologist.

Treatment

While there is no cure for PCOS, controlling it lowers your risks of infertility, miscarriages, diabetes, heart disease and other uterine cancers. It is important to partner with a provider that understands the health, cosmetic and emotional consequences of PCOS.

Lifestyle modifications

You can help manage your PCOS by eating healthy and exercising to keep your weight at a healthy level. This helps to lower blood glucose (sugar) levels, improve the body's use of insulin, and normalize hormone levels in your body. Even a 10 percent loss in body weight can restore a normal period and make your cycle more regular. Learn to achieve or maintain your ideal body weight through healthy eating and exercise. Consider medically supervised weight loss as losing weight may be more challenging for women with PCOS. We offer our own Medical Weight Loss program at Lexington Women's Health. Ask your provider for more details about this program.

If you smoke, consider quitting. Women who smoke have higher levels of androgens than women who don't smoke. Smoking also increases your risk of heart disease. 1-800-QUIT NOW (784-8669) is a free state wide program that offers information and support to smokers who are ready to quit!

Hormones/Medications

Oral contraceptives are usually the primary treatment for women with PCOS who do not wish to become pregnant, oral contraceptives involve a combination of hormones that: Regulates menstrual periods and ovulation, reduces hirsutism and acne, lowers androgen levels or lowers the body's androgen production, which sometimes improves fertility.

Diabetes medications- The medicine metformin (Glucophage) is used to treat type 2 diabetes. It has also been found to help with PCOS symptoms. Metformin affects the way insulin controls blood glucose (sugar) and lowers testosterone production. It slows the growth of abnormal hair and, after a few months of use, may help ovulation to return.

Treatment for Hirsutism

Increased hair growth on the face, chest, stomach, back, thumbs, or toes. There are methods available to reduce unwanted hair growth such as hormonal suppression, laser hair reduction or topical creams such as Vaniqa. Lexington Women's Health now has the Cutera Laser on site as a solution to unwanted hair and problem skin. This course of treatment offers permanent hair reduction! Ask your provider for more details about this treatment.

Pregnancy/Infertility

PCOS is one of the leading causes of infertility in women. Lack of ovulation is usually the reason for fertility problems in women with PCOS. Many women can conceive naturally once menstrual cycles are regulated. We offer IUI (intrauterine insemination) to assist in the process if needed. Some women may need additional help from ovulation inducing medications. We can help you to utilize medications to increase the frequency of ovulation and pregnancy if desired.

For more information about PCOS

A number of other organizations provide information about PCOS and offer support to women and families affected by the condition. Some of these organizations are listed here alphabetically.

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) is the nation's leading group of professionals providing health care to women. You can find an OB/GYN using its Web site. You can contact ACOG at: http://www.acog.org

The American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) is an organization devoted to advancing knowledge and expertise in reproductive medicine and biology. You can contact the ASRM at: http://www.asrm.org