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Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)

PCOS is associated with excess or higher than normal levels of male hormones in women.

Features of PCOS may develop at any age:

  • If arising during childhood it usually causes premature puberty;
  • If arising during teenage years it is usually exhibited by excess hair and/or by menstrual abnormalities;
  • If arising during early adulthood or middle life it usually presents by infertility and/or by glucose intolerance and
  • If arising during later life it usually presents with diabetes and cardiovascular disease. If you have symptoms, it is essential that you seek medical advice and investigation to confirm or eliminate PCOS, but Laser treatment can be useful in treating and managing the excessive hair growth that is often associated with this condition.

Symptoms – Excess and Unwanted Hair

Women with PCOS typically experience symptoms associated with excess Androgen levels including excess hair growth (hirsutism) and acne. An increased growth of coarse hair can occur on the face, nipple, chest, thighs or in the middle of the lower abdomen. For most women the appearance of excess and unwanted hair is distressing, and affects their self esteem and body image.

Women should not be embarrassed to consult professionals; City Laser Clinic therapists are experienced, qualified and accredited to perform safe Laser hair removal. Laser Hair Removal is an appropriate treatment with results superior to home remedies for excess and unwanted hair and Laser is a safer and more effective treatment than electrolysis or IPL. Laser Hair Removal is the foremost and clinically proven way to manage hormonal facial hair.

As your laser treatment progresses you will first notice the change in texture of the hair. Hair will grow back finer, lighter and less noticeable. As Laser treatments continue, after 6 – 8 laser treatments you will start to notice significant reduction in the amount of hair that is growing back. Up to 80% reduction can be expected, in some cases up to 90% hair loss can be achieved. On the facial areas, an ongoing maintenance laser treatment program is usually necessary for the management of any remaining hair.

When treating delicate areas such as the face it is very important that you choose a Medical Grade Laser. City Laser use Genuine Candela GentleLase (Alexandrite 755nm) Lasers with a Dynamic Cooling Device for best results and your comfort.

Other Symptoms

Some women with PCOS also exhibit male-patterned hair loss (alopecia) as well as acne.  We usually associate acne with adolescence, women who continue to get acne well after this time find it frustrating and embarrassing. In addition, the moderate to severe acne usually associated with PCOS can result in unsightly scarring.

A further common symptom of PCOS is obesity, with up to 70% of women being affected to some extent. Women with PCOS tend to gain weight in the abdominal region rather than on the buttocks or thighs, the usual areas woman “put on” weight.

Often the weight gain is related to ‘insulin resistance’, a condition that is typically associated with PCOS, Medical practitioners alert us that some women with PCOS who have insulin resistance are of normal weight, so regular testing is recommended and the absence of weight gain should not be considered as cause for complacence in managing PCOS.

Insulin is a hormone that allows the conversion of glucose (sugar) into energy. When insulin resistance occurs, the body produces more of the hormone to compensate; the elevated insulin level stimulates the body’s fat cells to make fat from nutrients and to store it, causing weight gain. A high level of insulin may also cause further increase in the production of androgens by the ovaries.

Women with PCOS may also experience menstrual disturbances: very light or heavy bleeding; infrequent periods; or absence of periods. Most women with PCOS started their periods at a normal age but they are irregular and over time may disappear altogether. Irregular periods are normal during adolescence these menstrual disturbances are usually not cause for concern and consequently they are not investigated further.

Women with irregular periods and/or acne may be prescribed an oral contraceptive pill which eliminates a ‘true’ period altogether. With the menstrual-related symptoms no longer apparent, consequently PCOS may go undetected.

For some women, PCOS is only diagnosed following investigations for problems with conception.  It is estimated that PCOS is present in more than 70% of women with infertility arising from failure to ovulate.

Women with PCOS are also at risk of endometrial hyperplasia, a condition in which the lining of the uterus is overstimulated by oestrogen and becomes overgrown. Endometrial hyperplasia is strongly associated with irregular ovulation.

Medical Treatment and Diagnosis

Many of the symptoms of PCOS are cosmetic, including: obesity, acne and hirsutism.  At City laser Clinic we occasionally identify Women who have not yet consulted their Medical Practitioner about symptoms consistent with PCOS, whilst treating excess and unwanted hair we are also able to encourage them to consult their Medical Practitioner so as to investigate the underlying causes and confirm or exclude PCOS as a cause.

If the symptoms improve with treatment of symptoms of PCOS (i.e. acne helped by oral contraceptives) the underlying condition of PCOS may not be detected until further problems present. It is important to discuss symptoms with your Medical Practitioner and investigate the possibility of PCOS rather than delaying and consequently exposing yourself to the risk of long term health problems like diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

Diagnosis of PCOS usually involves an ultrasound of the ovaries and blood tests to determine hormone levels, your Medical Practitioner will also take a thorough medical history (if not already recorded).

Treatment for PCOS depends on the symptoms presenting and whether you are trying to fall pregnant. For women who are diagnosed with PCOS as a result of infertility investigations, the immediate treatment is usually directed towards establishing regular ovulation to improve the chance of pregnancy. The aim of treatment for women not wishing to become pregnant in the near future is to provide relief from the symptoms.

You may also benefit from advice and support from the various PCOS support groups. Support groups provide current and specific information and allow women to share their experiences. Being able to talk to someone who has similar problems can help reduce women’s feelings of isolation.

(02) 9232 8090