Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, or PCOS, is a hormonal disorder affecting over 10 million women worldwide and roughly 6-10% of Canadian women. Though there is currently no cure and the etiology is largely unknown, early identification and clinical treatment are crucial in preventing long-term health outcomes associated with undiagnosed and untreated PCOS. The Medical Station, located in North York, offers comprehensive testing and diverse treatment options for women at-risk of or diagnosed with PCOS.
What is Polycystic Ovary Syndrome?
Though largely manifested in the ovaries, PCOS is really about a hormonal imbalance caused by insulin resistance. Though the etiology is not entirely understood, it is believed that high levels of insulin (the hormone that controls blood sugar) result in increased production of androgens (male hormones). Increased levels of androgen interfere with egg maturation in the ovaries – instead of the follicles releasing an egg each month, liquid filled cysts develop in the woman’s ovaries. Click here for more information on PCOS.
Symptoms of PCOS
The symptoms of PCOS typically begin with the onset of menstruation, but may not appear until a woman is in her late 20s or 30s. As with most medical conditions, individuals will experience different clinical symptoms to varying degrees. Some of the most common symptoms include:
- Acne & oily skin
- Excessive hair growth on the body and/or face
- Weight gain
- Infrequent, irregular, or absent periods
- Excessive menstrual bleeding
- Male pattern balding and hair thinning
- Skin tags (typically in the armpits or neck)
- Pelvic pain
- Anxiety & depression
- Sleep apnea
It is estimated that half of women with PCOS don’t even know they have it. If undiagnosed, PCOS can have serious long-term health consequences such as infertility and miscarriage, diabetes or pre-diabetes, heart disease and high cholesterol, uterine bleeding, increased risk of uterine cancer and slightly increased risk of breast cancer.
There is no single test to identify PCOS. Physicians at The Medical Station perform comprehensive physical examinations in our clinic as well as medical & family history of North York patients to identify risk of PCOS. If you are at risk for PCOS (i.e. if your mother or sister has been diagnosed), additional tests will be done by clinic staff. These may include a pelvic exam to check ovary size, blood tests to measure insulin, glucose and other hormones, or a vaginal ultrasound.
The Medical Station Offers Diverse Treatment for PCOS
There is no cure for PCOS, but there are a number of treatments available. The Medical Station physicians and clinic staff will work with you to develop a treatment plan based on your symptoms, experiences, and primary health concerns & goals. The Medical Station offers the following effective treatment options:
- Prescription of a suitable birth control to help control acne & regulate menstrual cycle
- Clinic physicians will discuss other medications, such as insulin-sensitizing medications (i.e. those used to treat diabetes) to combat insulin resistance and anti-androgens to address increased hair growth
- Our clinic Social Worker will be available to provide support for any anxiety or depression related to PCOS
- The Medical Station has extensive weight management expertise to support clients diagnosed with PCOS with necessary lifestyle modifications and weight loss goals
- Clinic family physicians will refer patients as necessary to our network of endocrinologists or fertility specialists in North York and the GTA