Many women are diagnosed with Polycystic Ovarian syndrome (PCOS), which affects one’s image and fertility. A recent article in the New York Times sheds light on new developments about this condition.
- First described in 1935, PCOS was initially called Stein-Leventhal syndrome, for the two American gynecologists who identified it, Dr. Irving F. Stein Sr. and Dr. Michael L. Leventhal. They recognized that ovarian cysts can interrupt ovulation and cause infertility in significant numbers of women.
- Irregular menstrual cycles and difficulty conceiving are among the most common symptoms; affected women often have enlarged ovaries and, when menses does occur, prolonged bleeding.
- Some have suggested that insulin resistance could be the underlying factor responsible for the disparate symptoms of PCOS.
- PCOS tends to cluster in families, with predisposing genes passed from either parent to both daughters and sons. In affected males, early balding or excessive hairiness can be a sign that the genes have been inherited. In women, symptoms can vary from being very mild to extensive.
- Some experts believe that the fundamental defect may not be insulin resistance, but hormonal dysregulation by or of the hypothalamus. This small region at the base of the brain produces hormones that stimulate the pituitary gland, which in turn affects organs throughout the body.
- There is no cure for PCOS, and the best approach to treatment is individualized, depending on the goals of each patient.
- Perhaps the most challenging therapy involves weight reduction. The most effective diet for achieving and maintaining weight loss is low in carbohydrates, rather than low in fat. Regular moderate or vigorous exercise done five or more times a week is an important part of the regimen.
PCOS: An Infertility Issue That Is Little Understood, NYT Personal Health, Nov 24, 2014