As many as 25 percent of Australian women have Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) and according to Dr Sneha Wadhwani, it’s defined by a number of characteristics.
She told Kinderling Conversation, “PCOS is a clinical diagnosis and defined by the following aspects: periods become heavier, they might find it difficult to lose weight or have increased hairiness.”
“It’s a spectrum of disease, some women are mildly affected, others are severely affected. And it’s also the most common cause of infertility.”
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Testing for PCOS
Sneha says the testing grounds for PCOS is our hormones, via a blood test.
“We look for follicles and do blood tests – we are looking for how much testosterone you have. Testosterone is normal and we need a bit of it, but often women with PCOS are lacking the binding hormone in the blood, which causes things like hairiness,” says Sneha.
“We also look at sugar and insulin levels – women with PCOS also have a tendency towards diabetes, so managing that is part of the treatment.”
Listen to Sneha on Kinderling Conversation:
How you’re treated depends on your stage of life
Sneha says GPs look at the woman’s lifestyle choices.
“If you need to lose weight, we come up with a weight loss and exercise plan to help burn calories, changing the diet to make it more diabetic-friendly,” says Sneha.
For women with irregular periods, Sneha recommends the pill to help regulate the cycle.
“Some women with PCOS can go for 6-12 months without a period, so the pill helps to make sure the lining is shed regularly.”
The pill is also effective in treating the hairiness that can come as a result of PCOS, and laser hair removal or lotions and potions can also be used.
As mentioned, infertility is one of the biggest side-effects of PCOS and Sneha says GPs start talking with women about this as soon as possible.
“The infertility side of things means early planning,” says Sneha. “We talk about getting you ready to have children far earlier than you might have considered it.”
If you have any concerns about your health or need more information about polycystic ovary syndrome, check in with your GP.