Polycystic ovarian syndrome, also know as PCOS, is a very common hormonal condition that affects at least 1 in 10 people with ovaries in the UK (so in a class of 30 that'll be around 3 people). If you do have PCOS, this article will help you learn a little bit more. And if you don’t have PCOS, it's something you can develop when you are older so it's really important to know what to watch out for so you can get the support you need 💕
What exactly is PCOS?
‘Poly’ means multiple, ‘cystic’ refers to there being cysts (which are little sacs of fluid), and ovarian refers to the ovaries (which is where eggs form and the female hormones estrogen and progesterone are made). A ‘syndrome’ is a condition that causes a variety of symptoms. So PCOS is when multiple cysts are found on or in the ovaries.
These cysts contain follicles which are underdeveloped sacs in which eggs develop. These sacs are often unable to release an egg, which means ovulation doesn’t take place causing more irregular or absent periods.
Unfortunately, there isn’t a cure for PCOS, and it tends to be a lifelong condition, but there is lots that can be done to help manage it.
How does PCOS happen?
It’s down to hormones. Hormones are chemical messengers which are released into the blood stream by glands and then carried to a target. They help to regulate things like our body's development and growth.
Androgens are the hormones responsible for producing typically ‘male’ features, for example testosterone is an androgen. Everyone has androgens, but people with PCOS tend to have higher levels. This works against the oestrogen and progesterone and prevents the ovaries from releasing an egg every month. It’s also responsible for causing some of the other symptoms of PCOS.
What are the symptoms?
Find the full article on luna