Because of the varied nature of the symptoms, diagnosis and treatment of PCOS, Gundersen created a multi-specialty approach. If you have symptoms that suggest you might have PCOS, talk with your primary care provider about a referral to the Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome Program or call (608) 775-2306 or (800) 362-9567, ext. 52306.
There is help for polycystic ovarian syndrome
Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) is a reproductive disorder that affects about 5 to ten percent of women. Symptoms may be few or many. Because of the variable nature of PCOS, a diagnosis and treatment is often multifaceted. To address the complexity of PCOS, Gundersen Health System has created a program for women who have been diagnosed with, or whose symptoms suggest, PCOS.
Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome Program at Gundersen
Every month a multidisciplinary team evaluates women with PCOS and develops an individualized treatment plan for her. The program also provides emotional support, dietary and exercise guidance and weight management for women with PCOS. Patients and healthcare providers can also use the team as an informational resource.
Depending on the patient's symptoms and needs, her team may include specialists from:
- Fertility Center
- Women's Health
- Nutrition Therapy
- Behavioral Health
- Exercise Physiology
- Plastic Surgery
What is PCOS?
With PCOS, there is an increased level of androgens or "male" hormones produced by the ovaries, although the exact cause isn't known. Genetics and some medication may play a role.
What symptoms and risk factors are associated with PCOS?
PCOS can lead to physical problems such as chronic pelvic pain and menstrual irregularities including infrequent, heavy or irregular periods or no periods at all. A lack of egg production can lead to infertility. PCOS is also characterized by enlarged or polycystic ovaries with fluid-filled cysts visible on an ultrasound.
PCOS can also lead to serious long-term health risks such as high blood pressure and heart disease, diabetes, endometrial hyperplasia (overgrowth of the uterine lining) and endometrial cancer.
Then there may be emotional challenges because hormonal changes associated with PCOS may cause infertility, obesity, acne, dark patches of skin, excessive hair growth on the face or chest, or thinning hair on the head.
How is PCOS diagnosed?
There isn't a definitive test for PCOS. Diagnosis is usually based on a combination of physical examination, ultrasound of the ovaries and blood tests. Sometimes it is necessary to rule out other causes for symptoms to help determine a diagnosis.
How is PCOS treated?
PCOS should be treated because of the long-term health risks. Treatment for PCOS is often specific to the problems the woman is experiencing. For example, it may include hormone therapies such as oral contraceptives to regulate her cycle, medication to increase fertility and/or treatment to clear up acne or unwanted hair.
Obesity is also common in women with PCOS. Diet and exercise not only help with weight control, but can help improve frequency of ovulation, insulin resistance, cholesterol and triglyceride levels, and other health risks, so it's an important component of treatment.