Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a condition where small cysts form around the edge of a woman's ovaries. Up to 10 per cent of women in the UK suffer from the condition, although exact numbers are difficult to measure. PCOS can cause a range of problems in the body but perhaps the most worrying for many women is the adverse effect it can have on fertility.
The main symptoms of PCOS are irregular or light periods, weight gain, acne, and depression. Other symptoms include hair loss or excessive hair growth in areas more commonly associated when men. Further details on the symptoms of PCOS.
There is no cure for polycystic ovary syndrome but the condition can be controlled or improved through a combination of medication and lifestyle choices. Surgery may occasionally be used to return the ovaries to a more normal state. More information on treatment for the condition.
Metformin is one of the main drugs sued to treat polycystic ovary syndrome. The medication helps lower the high levels of insulin, androgen, and cholesterol, as well as increase ovulation. More information on the drug metformin.
Women with polycystic ovary syndrome are recommended to follow a low GI eating plan. Not only does this lead to a weight loss but it helps reduce the insulin problems that cause many PCOS symptoms. More details on recommended diets for the syndrome.
One of the key ways to alleviate the symptoms of PCOS is to maintain a healthy weight. Over half of women with the condition are clinically obese which can make the problem far worse. Losing just 5% of your excess weight can lead to a significant improvement in your symptoms. More information on how weight loss can help improve the problem.
Women with PCOS may have more difficulty in becoming pregnant but a sizeable number are still able to conceive. There are also several steps you can take to improve your fertility levels, and to reduce the effect of the condition. More details on PCOS and fertility.
The main risk of PCOS during pregnancy is the increased likelihood of miscarriage. The condition can cause a miscarriage rate of up to 50%. However, thousands of women with polycystic ovary syndrome have successful pregnancies every year. More information on PCOS during pregnancy
The UK has a number of charities and organisations providing support for women with polycystic ovary syndrome. One of the most prominent groups is Verity which aims to improve the lives of women living with PCOS. More information on the Verity support group
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