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Heart of IL OBGYN

Understanding PCOS


Our gynecologists at Heart of Illinois OBGYN in Bloomington, IL provide a variety of gynecological and obstetric services. One of the many conditions Dr. Dalton and Dr. Zotz treat is PCOS or Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome.   

What is PCOS?

Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) is a condition that affects 10-20% of women. The exact cause is not certain, but it appears that several factors contribute to this health problem. Women with PCOS have elevated levels of androgen hormones, insulin resistance, and irregular menstrual cycles. PCOS is a common, but treatable cause of infertility.

Symptoms of PCOS

  • Irregular menstrual cycles
  • Hirsutism- excess facial or body hair
  • Severe Acne
  • Dark velvety patches on skin
  • Obesity - 80% with PCOS are overweight
  • Multiple small cysts on ovaries

Health Risks of PCOS

  • Infertility - irregular menses can lead to difficulty becoming pregnant due to irregular ovulation.
  • Insulin Resistance - cells in the body do not respond normally to insulin, leading to high insulin levels, and over time high blood sugar levels. Excess production of insulin appears to increase production of androgens. Insulin resistance can cause diabetes. Insulin resistance can also increase risk of metabolic syndrome and cardiovascular disease later in life.
  • Endometrial Hyperplasia - a condition where the endometrial lining of the uterus becomes abnormally thick, which increases risk of endometrial cancer.

Treatment of PCOS

PCOS treatment is determined by woman’s symptoms, health problems, and desire to prevent or achieve pregnancy.

  • Weight loss - for women that are overweight, weight loss can help to make menses more regular and restore regular ovulation.  Weight loss can decrease insulin levels and decrease symptoms of acne and hair growth.
  • Low carbohydrate diet - works to decrease blood glucose & insulin levels which can help to restore regular ovulation.
  • Hormonal Birth Control - works to regulate the menstrual cycle, decreasing the risk of endometrial cancer. Birth control pills can also reduce androgen levels helping to decrease hirsutism and acne.
  • Metformin - medication that helps the body respond to insulin, decreases insulin levels & blood sugar, can help decrease androgen levels and improve ovulation.
  • Spironolactone - medication that can be used to decrease androgen levels, decrease acne & hirsutism.
  • Clomid - may be given to stimulate ovulation when trying for pregnancy.
  • Natural Procreative Technology