Adventist Health Portland | Living Well | Spring 2024 5 Adventist Health Women’s Clinic 971-231-7790 | you deal with unstable menstrual periods, facial hair and acne, you may be one of the 5% to 26% of women with polycystic ovary syndrome, or PCOS. PCOS is common among women between the ages of 15 and 44, or during their childbearing years. Most patients are diagnosed when they struggle to get pregnant in their 20s and 30s. In fact, PCOS is the most common reason for infertility. The disorder is caused by an imbalance in reproductive hormones, which hinders a woman’s egg release and ovulation cycle. Since PCOS is a health problem that affects so many women of childbearing age, it’s important for you to know the facts. Signs and symptoms PCOS can trigger a variety of signs and symptoms in women, such as: ● Irregular periods. Some women have no periods, and some have more than one period per month. ● Cysts on the ovaries. ● Weight gain or trouble losing weight. ● Excess hair growth on the face, chest and back. ● Loss of hair on the scalp. ● Bad acne. ● Oily skin. ● Darker, velvety and sometimes thicker patches of skin (acanthosis nigricans). Many complications Although infertility is one of the biggest complications of PCOS, the condition also can cause problems once a woman does get pregnant: Her If Get in touch with us chances for miscarriages, gestational diabetes and preeclampsia — dangerously high blood pressure — go up. The complications go beyond the reproductive system alone. Women with PCOS are at risk of developing anxiety, depression, sleep problems, obesity, uterine cancer, high blood pressure, unhealthy cholesterol levels, and diabetes and insulin resistance. Finding help for PCOS If you think you have PCOS, the first step is to talk to your primary care or women’s care provider. “Your treatment plan should be based on your situation and symptoms,” says Gina Cardona, Adventist Health Portland certified nurse-midwife. “For example, medication can help with insulin resistance, skin and hair problems, and regulating your periods. If you struggle to become pregnant, your midwife or OB-GYN can work with you to improve your chances of conceiving through medication or other interventions.” If you’re overweight, changes in diet and exercise can also help. Losing even a small amount of weight may help regulate your periods and improve fertility. Although PCOS has no cure, treatment can help manage the condition and its complications. Work with your provider to figure out the best treatments for you. Sources: American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists; National Institutes of Health; Office on Women’s Health