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What is Polycystic Ovary Syndrome?

Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is one of those conditions that women generally don't know about. . And those who do don't talk about.† This syndrome comes from having too high a† male hormone level and over-stimulation of the ovarian follicles.† As a result, women with PCOS have fewer or no periods, and they're very irregular.† This is generally not a problem, except for women trying to get pregnant.† What is a bigger problem is that women with PCOS also tend to be overweight; have high levels of LDL,† the bad cholesterol;† and have insulin resistance, a precursor to diabetes.† And all of these factors are also risks factors for heart disease.

A recent study from the University of Pittsburgh studied 125 women with PCOS compared with healthy women.† More than 20% of the women with PCOS had fatty plaques narrowing the carotid arteries (which bring blood to the brain) compared to only 15% of the healthy women.† Women over age 45 with PCOS had more plaque build-up and more thickening of the carotid artery walls than the healthy women.

PCOS can be helped with medication, often starting with birth control pills, and appropriate lifestyle changes.† Overweight women with PCOS must lose weight as part of their risk reduction and PCOS management strategy.†

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Created: 3/14/2001  -  Donnica Moore, M.D.

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