PCOS symptoms have long been recorded by women, but there is still a lot to be learned about the disorder to improve patients’ quality of life in the future. Patients and doctors around the world struggle to diagnose and treat PCOS due to its multiple effects on the body and lack of a specific cause. We may be able to better understand how we approach treatment and care of patients with PCOS based on the symptoms associated with the condition.
It is well known that genetics and environmental factors contribute to polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), but no one knows what causes the disease. A mutation in one or more genes may be responsible for part of PCOS symptoms, because the syndrome runs in families. According to recent research in animal models, PCOS may be caused by womb-related genetic or chemical changes.
An individual with PCOS is likely to have a mix of genetics and environmental factors that contribute to PCOS causes:
More testosterone and more insulin resistance:
Insulin resistance is an inability for your body to deliver enough energy to your cells to sustain your body’s daily functions. This may lead to an increase in insulin levels so that your cells can receive more energy. It has been found that high hormone levels can negatively affect other parts of your body, including your ovaries. PCOS contributes to hormonal imbalance, which causes female ovaries to lose their ability to function, and male hormones (androgens) to increase in a woman. In that case, your ovaries will not be able to ovulate at the normal cycle that they normally follow.
There are several effects associated with high levels of androgen, including:
- Reduce the frequency of ovulation by interfering with hormones that stimulate ovulation.
- Increased growth of hair on face and body, causes acne as other symptoms of PCOS.
These disturbances in the menstrual cycle often result in irregular periods and ovarian cysts in women with PCOS. These imbalances can affect the body in a variety of ways, such as hormonal acne as a result of rising androgen levels and hirsutism. Those with PCOS who have insulin resistance might experience hyperpigmentation and stubborn weight gain. Multiplicity of symptoms may worsen the quality of life of women with PCOS if the condition is not managed properly.
The genetic cause:
The genes your parents pass down to you determine approximately 99% of your body’s structure and composition. You may be more likely to develop PCOS if you have a family history of it. This also applies to other metabolic abnormalities that your family might be susceptible to.
In reality, PCOS is not caused by just one gene. There are several genes involved in PCOS that function delicately, and abnormalities in these mechanisms can result in the symptoms we see in women suffering from this chronic condition. You may also develop insulin resistance if your genes malfunction and affect hormone levels.
Studies have confirmed that insulin resistance occurs in women with PCOS even if their weight doesn’t increase. Therefore, insulin resistance may not be caused solely by weight fluctuations in women with PCOS.
There are also symptoms of PCOS related to insulin, another hormone in the body. By moving sugar (also known as glucose) from the bloodstream into the cells, insulin provides energy to the cells. A person’s blood sugar level rises when their cells do not respond normally to insulin. A higher level of insulin is also produced as the body tries to get glucose into the cells by producing more and more of it. A high insulin level increases the production of androgens, which are then responsible for PCOS symptoms. As a result of high insulin levels, appetite can also increase, resulting in weight gain. An abnormally high insulin level can also result in thickened, velvety patches of skin called acanthosis nigricans.
The lifestyle factor:
Unhealthy lifestyle such as poor eating habits, sedentary lifestyle, poor sleeping habits, unmanaged stress can all contribute to hormonal imbalance. And insulin resistance is one of the major drivers of PCOS. Unhealthy lifestyle can also cause weight gain which can worsen insulin resistance. However, it’s still not fully understood whether weight gain causes PCOS, or having PCOS causes weight gain.
At least since the 1700s, doctors have been noticing the symptoms of Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS). Yet, when we look back on this common women’s health syndrome hundreds of years later, the exact PCOS causes still remain unclear. Women’s health and endocrinology experts have discovered important new clues to what drives this condition-and that may offer new approaches to treating and improving it.