Women who have polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) are at a higher risk of developing certain health conditions, which is why women with PCOS require attentive, thorough, long-term care. The following are the more common conditions that women with PCOS might experience.
Prediabetes or diabetes
Prediabetes is a condition in which a person’s blood sugar levels are higher than what’s healthy, but not high enough to be diabetic. According to US Department of Health and Human Services, more than half of women with PCOS have prediabetes or diabetes before 40 years of age.
Also called obstructive sleep apnea, people with this condition stop breathing for small amounts of time while they’re asleep. A common side effect is snoring and gasping, along with sleepiness during daytime hours. Sleep apnea can put people at risk for conditions like diabetes and stroke, so it’s important for women with PCOS and symptoms of sleep apnea to be tested as it occurs more often in this population.
It’s unclear what the connection between PCOS and obesity is. According to the National Institutes of Health, nearly 80% of women with PCOS are obese. Women who are obese are more likely to develop PCOS, most likely because of genetics and problems with insulin sensitivity.
Furthermore, studies have shown that PCOS can lead to increased central obesity and difficulty with weight loss. One of the best ways to manage PCOS is to maintain or lose weight through diet and exercise.
This condition results from a combination of insulin sensitivity problems, high blood sugar, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and central obesity. Metabolic syndrome raises one’s risk of diabetes and heart disease. According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, almost one out of three women with PCOS has metabolic syndrome.
Cardiovascular disease and heart disease
Women with PCOS are at a higher risk of developing coronary artery disease, atherosclerosis, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and cardiomyopathy, which are all conditions related to the heart and arteries. It’s important for women with PCOS to be monitored for these conditions, and to manage them if they appear.
Mood problems, depression, eating disorders
Many women with PCOS develop anxiety, depression, body image issues, or eating disorders as a result of the symptoms of the condition, or the hormonal imbalances that come with PCOS. They might feel nervous about how they appear, or be disheartened at how difficult it is for them to lose weight. Lots of women with PCOS could benefit from seeing a therapist or going to a support group for other women with PCOS.
The US Department of Health and Human Services reports that women with PCOS are at a higher risk of developing endometrial cancer. This is because without a normal period, the lining of their womb can build to unhealthy levels and eventually lead to cancer. This is why a lot of women with PCOS take hormonal birth control to regulate their periods.
Modern medicine has made it so that many of the above conditions can be prevented or managed through medication, lifestyle changes, or even both. However, left untreated, conditions related to PCOS can be life-threatening, so proper diagnosis and follow-up treatment is essential with these conditions.
“Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) fact sheet.” Womenshealth. Office on Women’s Health, US Department of Health and Human Services, Dec 23 2014. Web.
“Polycystic Ovary Syndrome: Patient Guide.” Hormone. Endocrine Society, Jan 2014. Web.
Mayo Clinic Staff. “Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS): Definition.” MayoClinic. Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, Sep 3 2014. Web.