Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)

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About 10% of women develop polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), which affects ovarian function and causes hormonal imbalance and problems such as heavy bleeding and painful periods.

Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) refers to a cluster of symptoms that occur in women with an imbalance of insulin and androgens. High levels of insulin cause blood levels of androgens to increase. Women normally produce a small amount of androgens, including testosterone. But when androgen levels get too high, the ovaries can’t work normally and ovulation either stops or becomes irregular.

What Causes PCOS?

To be diagnosed with PCOS, you must have two of three key symptoms:

  • Abnormal menstrual bleeding (irregular periods, heavy periods, or no periods)
  • Multiple ovarian cysts
  • Signs of excessive androgens (i.e. acne, hair loss, unwanted hair growth, etc.)

When androgen levels are high, symptoms such as acne, hair loss, and hirsutism, or excessive, dark hair growth on the face, chest, or thighs can occur. About 70% of women with PCOS have hirsutism.

PCOS Treatments

At The Ashford Center in Athens, Georgia Dr. Clint Ashford and Dr. Rebecca Ashford, specialize in helping women whose childbearing is complete and who suffer with PCOS symptoms. The Advanced Endometrial Ablation procedure and the correct hormonal therapy can be extremely therapeutic. While this procedure doesn’t always completely cure all PCOS symptoms, it can often alleviate most and is recommended for women with heavy bleeding when childbearing is complete.

Call the experts at The Ashford Center today, or schedule a consultation online to learn more about this procedure.

Medical Conditions Commonly Associated With PCOS

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Commonly Asked Questions

Does PCOS Cause Health Complications?

The hormonal imbalances associated with PCOS affect many functions and systems in your body. As a result, PCOS increases your risk of:

  • Infertility: PCOS is a leading cause of infertility due to ovulation problems
  • Weight gain: More than half of all women with PCOS gain weight
  • Type 2 diabetes: Insulin resistance is responsible for high insulin levels that affect androgens, and untreated insulin resistance turns into Type 2 diabetes
  • Metabolic syndrome: This condition significantly increases the risk of cardiovascular disease. (Metabolic syndrome refers to a group of chronic problems, including high blood pressure (hypertension), high blood sugar, high cholesterol, and excess fat around the waist.

Why do periods cause bloating?

The primary cause of bloating is hormones. PMS begins during the luteal phase of your menstrual cycle. The hormones estrogen and progesterone will fluctuate, and the lining of your uterus gets thicker.

When should you see a doctor?

If you are experiencing bloating that does not go away after your period and/or if it is severe enough to affect your daily life.

What causes heavy periods?

Sometimes women are simply genetically predisposed to having heavy, painful periods despite normal anatomy and the absence of gynecologic pathology. However, several gynecologic conditions may also cause heavy menstrual bleeding, including:

  • Uterine fibroids: Noncancerous growths that develop in the uterine wall
  • Uterine polyps: Small growths that develop in the lining of the uterus
  • Endometriosis: A condition in which cells from the uterine lining grow outside the uterus on the surrounding organs
  • Adenomyosis: A condition in which cells from the uterine lining grow into the uterine wall
  • Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS): a common hormonal imbalance problem
  • Thyroid Problems: Both low- and high-thyroid levels may be problematic
  • Anemia: Anemia can be a result of heavy uterine bleeding, but anemia paradoxically can make uterine bleeding worse.

How are “heavy periods” defined?

In 2005, the FDA has formally decided that a woman herself should be the one to determine if her periods are “heavy” or “abnormal”. Therefore, nearly all insurance companies consider Advanced Endometrial Ablation a “covered service” if a woman is tired of having periods and would like to be period-free. In any case, menstrual periods are certainly considered abnormal when they are different from the average cycle. On average, periods last around five days and there should be about 24-38 days between periods.

Your periods are too heavy if:

  • Periods are interfering with your personal life or productivity at work
  • Bleeding lasts more than five days
  • Blood soaks through one or more pads or tampons per hour
  • You need to wear more than one pad at a time
  • You need to change pads or tampons while you sleep
  • You pass blood clots the size of a quarter or larger

If you meet any of these criteria — or if childbearing is complete and dealing with the hassle of periods is becoming a problem— it’s time to schedule a consultation with either Dr. Clint or Dr. Rebecca Ashford at the Ashford Center.