What is PCO?

What is PCO?

Polycystic ovary syndrome is characterized by an increase in adrogenic symptoms, ovulatory disturbance and polycystic ovaries.

What is the cause?
The etiology of PCO is unclear. Insulin resistance may play a large role.

Kelly M VanGilder, DO
By: Kelly M VanGilder, DO
What are the symptoms of PCO?
The symptoms may include a range of menstrual abnormalities from amenorrhea (no periods) to menorrhagia (excessive bleeding). Women with PCO may have fertility issues. Some patients with PCO may have skin changes consistent with the androgen excess that accompanies PCO including acne and hirsutism which is a male pattern of hair growth in which a woman grows hair in places she typically would not such as the
face and chest. Many women (though not all) with PCO are overweight or obese.

What are the serious consequences of PCO?
Women with this disorder are at increased risk of pregnancy complications such as gestational diabetes and hypertensive disorders. They may also be at increased risk for metabolic syndromes, fatty liver, Type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. These women are also at increased risk for endometrial cancer and depression.

Can PCO be managed?
Yes. Very important in the management of PCO is lifestyle modification. Exercise and dietary changes reduce the risk of diabetes. Medications can be used to help decrease androgen levels, improve ovulatory rates, and improve glucose tolerance. Patients wishing to conceive who have ovulatory dysfunction can be started on
Clomid. Laser hair removal is a front line treatment for women with hirsutism. Women with PCO should be screened for cardiovascular risk and pregnant women should be evaluated for impaired glucose tolerance.

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