Are women with PCOD affected by hirsutism?
In women Beard growth, infertility: this is the syndrome behind it
1. What is the acronym PCOS?
Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, PCOS for short, affects one to two in ten women worldwide: Behind this are hormonal changes and metabolic disorders that can put a lot of strain on women. “Typical external symptoms are male body hair, acne, and often an increased body weight,” says Barbara Obermayer-Pietsch, who is researching this syndrome at the Graz University Hospital.
The cause of the syndrome is increased levels of male sex hormones in the female body. "Male relatives of women with PCOS can also be affected," says Obermayer-Pietsch. Therefore, brothers or sons of PCOS women can also suffer from obesity or increased hair loss due to an excess of male hormones.
2. How is the diagnosis made?
According to Obermayer-Pietsch, two out of three criteria must be met in order to make a diagnosis of PCOS. These three criteria are:
- Disturbances of the cycle,
- increased levels of male hormones (medical: androgens)
- as well as many small cysts on the ovaries from which the name is derived.
What is a burden for many women today could even have been an evolutionary advantage earlier in human history, says Obermayer-Pietsch: "Increased fat reserves, fewer pregnancies and better thermal protection through body hair could bring a survival advantage."
Many affected women, but not all, have an unfulfilled desire to have children.Barbara Obermayer-Pietsch
3. Why does PCOS interfere with fertility?
The syndrome is one of the major causes for the unfulfilled desire to have children in women. The reason: Because of PCOS, women have very irregular cycles, and the menstrual cycle is often absent. Often times, ovulation does not occur, which prevents women from becoming pregnant. "Many affected women, but not all, have an unfulfilled desire to have children," says Obermayer-Pietsch.
4. How do the male hormones also work?
Hirsutism is the technical term for what affected women often fight every day: body hair, which is actually typical for men. Often there is masculine hair on the face, arms and legs, in the bikini line and sometimes on the back. "Acne and other skin symptoms are also becoming more common," says Obermayer-Pietsch. This is due to increased male hormones, especially testosterone.
5. Why is the syndrome often associated with being overweight?
In addition to the hormonal disorders, the metabolism is also changed: This can be up to Type 2 diabetes, diabetes. “Therefore, the first and most important approach in therapy is a healthy lifestyle,” says Obermayer-Pietsch. These include: do not smoke, eat little sugar and white flour products and consume calories through strength and endurance training. "If those affected reduce their excess weight, this can in many cases bring a significant improvement," says the expert.
6. What is the therapy for PCOS?
"At the beginning there should always be the question: What do we want to achieve with the treatment?" Says Obermayer-Pietsch. Depending on whether the cosmetic problems or the unfulfilled desire to have children are in the foreground, a therapy with hormones would have to be individually adapted.
But there are also non-hormonal therapies: Metformin, a well-known drug from the treatment of diabetes, can improve the effect of insulin in the body in PCOS patients and also improve hormonal disorders. Epilation, lasers or other methods of hair removal are used to make the often annoying body hair disappear. "It is essential to note in therapy that many women are also very psychologically stressed, for example due to the unfulfilled desire to have children," says Obermayer-Pietsch.
7. What do we know today about the causes?
A recent study suggests that the syndrome is his Roots in the womb Has: If pregnant mothers have high levels of a hormone (anti-Müllerian hormone), this could cause hormonal changes in the PCOS in the unborn children. According to Obermayer-Pietsch, this theory is supported by the fact that PCOS occurs more frequently in families, but is not necessarily inherited. The hope is to derive new therapies from this knowledge.
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