The Health Implications of PCOS
The ‘cysts’ found in women with PCOS do not present a health issue and will not need to be removed surgically.
Abnormal menstrual cycle
An abnormal menstrual cycle in some women with PCOS can make them more susceptible to certain health problems in later life, but there are good treatments to help prevent these. Some women may have a significantly disrupted cycle, fewer than four periods a year. Such patients may not be ovulating regularly, and fertility is likely to be compromised.
Over time, there is an increased risk of developing type-2 diabetes, diabetes in pregnancy, a high cholesterol level and, possibly, high blood pressure. About 10-20% of women with PCOS develop diabetes at some point. These problems may also raise your risk of having cardiovascular diseases in later life.
There are certain problems that may arise during pregnancy, including a greater chance of having babies too early and pre-eclampsia (high blood pressure in pregnancy). There is also an elevated risk of developing diabetes in pregnancy; twice as likely in women with PCOS compared with other expectant mothers. Regular monitoring of blood glucose tolerance is advisable during pregnancy.
Studies have shown that women with PCOS have increased risk markers of cardiovascular disease. PCOS is particularly associated with an increased risk of atherosclerosis, a potentially very dangerous condition where arteries become clogged with fatty substances called plaques, or atheroma. These plaques can cause the arteries to harden and narrow, restricting blood flow and oxygen supply to vital organs. Studies have shown that women with PCOS have increased markers of this condition, independent of obesity. These conditions are associated with the ‘metabolic syndrome’, a problem more common in women with PCOS in later life.
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