PCOS (Polycystic ovary syndrome) is a hormonal disorder that affects women of all ages, although it is slightly more common in women of reproductive age. According to a study around 10 – 15 percent of all women worldwide, suffer from PCOS. At Dr. Banker, we understand that PCOS can be hard on women, and as parents to manage teens with PCOS may be more confusing. That is why it is important to discuss this topic, as there can be many misconceptions or lack of awareness. In this blog, we will walk you through symptoms that teens with PCOS exhibit and talk about PCOS care and treatment.
What is PCOS?
PCOS is a syndrome of dilemmas having a wide range of clinical, biochemical, and sonography features and there are challenges in diagnosis due to its varied symptoms and contrasting manifestations in different women. A Polycystic Ovary Syndrome diagnosis can only be made after careful evaluation of a patient since the presenting symptoms vary in each patient. While teens with PCOS would include irregular periods or heavy menstruation and acne. Lack of PCOS care may cause infertility, hirsutism in young adults and cardiovascular problems, and type 2 diabetes in aging women. This is why in a large number of women having Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, diagnosis can often take time as symptoms can go unnoticed. This is why it is vital to recognize and diagnose the issue and manage PCOS before it can lead to other complications.
Teens with PCOS:
Since the ovaries start full function at puberty and menarche, the syndrome starts manifestations only after that. The very first sign or warning in teens with PCOS would be premature pubarche or the early appearance of pubic hair. An average girl will get her first period at around 12 years of age, but this differs from one girl to the other. One of the main symptoms of PCOS is irregular periods or the absence of a period. However, since periods are widely irregular in the first two years of puberty, PCOS care is not provided in many cases, as symptoms may go unnoticed.
However, some of the other main symptoms that teens with PCOS experience are as follows:
1. Irregular periods or absence of periods
2. Weight gain or obesity
3. Face and body acne
4. Hair growth in unusual places like face, chest, and back or Hirsutism
5. Insulin resistance
6. Skin darkening in areas of the neck, groin, and under the breasts and Acanthosis Nigricans
As some of the above symptoms like acne and weight gain are also characteristics of normal puberty, the diagnosis of PCOS is often overlapped, delayed, and misinterpreted.
If your daughter or somebody is showing these symptoms then it is required to visit a doctor immediately for PCOS care. However, the COVID-19 pandemic has made many doctors inaccessible so you can search on the internet for “PCOS care near me or gynecologist near me”.
Common problems faced by teens with PCOS:
The following are some of the main health concerns or problems faced with PCOS in girls:
- Irregular Periods and egg production
When there is a disturbance in the proper production of hormones from the hypothalamus and pituitary glands, it leads to absence or irregularity in egg production. It is noticed that for teens with PCOS, the menstrual cycle gets delayed or even completely stops. Since the ovary does not produce and release an egg every month, the small follicles get converted into multiple small cysts giving rise to the typical appearance of enlarged ovaries during PCOS.
One of the main hyperandrogenism symptoms for teens with PCOS is producing excessive male hormone androgen in females. This imbalance then contributes to irregular periods, face and body acne, thinning of hair on the head, increased body and facial hair, and other PCOS symptoms.
- Acne and Hirsutism
Since the male sex hormones are abnormally high in women with PCOS, the androgen hormone contributes to excessive and thick body and facial hair along with mild to severe acne in teens with PCOS.
- Insulin resistance and Glucose Metabolism
Insulin resistance and impaired glucose tolerance are common in a large percent of women suffering from PCOS. Around 30-40 per cent of women with PCOS also have insulin resistance and have trouble processing glucose into energy. Insulin resistance is a key contributor to metabolic disturbance and is a condition that causes high glucose levels that lead to type 2 diabetes. One of the first signs noticed with teens with PCOS is insulin resistance, which contributes to the production of results in excessive male hormones called androgen. These hyperandrogenism symptoms also contribute to irregular or absence of periods.
PCOS symptoms in teenage girls may not directly cause obesity, but the condition is most likely to worsen with it. About 40-80% of women who suffer from PCOS are reported overweight and obese. Obesity further contributes to type 2 diabetes and other heart ailments. According to a study, even a 5% weight reduction can regularise periods and control PCOS to a large extent.
- Acanthosis Nigricans
With high levels of hormones and insulin along with obesity, many adolescent girls develop dark velvety patches of darkened skin in the back, underarms, and groin can be experienced by teens with PCOS. These discolored skin patches are called Acanthosis Nigricans and affect around 22-44% of women with the condition.
PCOS care or PCOS treatment:
Unfortunately, there is no single permanent cure for Polycystic Ovary Syndrome. The condition can, however, be greatly managed and controlled through a healthy lifestyle, positive mindset, and support from loved ones. Some of the ideas included in the steps of PCOS care.
1. Regularise periods: One of the significant aims of PCOS care is to regularise the menstrual cycle. Since irregular periods are quite common in the first two years of puberty, adolescent girls with PCOS are given either a combined oral contraceptive (CoC) or only progesterone to help maintain the cycle.
2. Antiandrogens to control hirsutism and acne: Antiandrogen drugs are usually prescribed as PCOS care to treat severe acne and hirsutism in adolescent girls with PCOS. Spironolactone and Flutamide are some of the most common antiandrogens that help lower the levels of androgens which controls hair growth and improves acne in teens with PCOS.
3. Family counseling to control weight and calorie intake for diabetes and cardiovascular diseases: Usually teens with PCOS, when they have undergone a diagnosis. The next best step is to guide the family into taking all the necessary steps and precautions for PCOS care to ensure that the girl incorporates healthy lifestyle choices. It is observed that a timely and early diagnosis helps women control the condition to a large extent. If proper care and steps are taken to regularise the cycle, the girl is less likely to suffer from infertility, miscarriage, and other cardiovascular and diabetic diseases. A daily exercise routine, 6-8 hours of uninterrupted sleep, and a positive body image will help the girl tackle the physical and mental trauma of the condition.
An early Polycystic Ovary Syndrome diagnosis in adolescent girls can be of great advantage in controlling the effects of the condition and PCOS care. If you or your relatives or friends show any of the above signs of PCOS, consult a doctor immediately to help understand and manage the condition.
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