Polycystic Ovary Syndrome in teenagers

Polycystic Ovary Syndrome in teenagersPolycystic Ovary Syndrome in teenagers Polycystic Ovary Syndrome in teenagersPolycystic Ovary Syndrome in teenagers

What is PCOS?

  • A common condition among teenage girls and young women; 5-10% of females are affected by this disorder across the globe
  • A “reproductive” disease because it can interfere with the healthy functioning of the ovaries
  • It's the leading cause of “infertility” which is the inability to get pregnant.

What causes PCOS?

Its exact cause is somewhat unclear; however, we do know that hormonal abnormalities in the body can cause the ovaries to dysfunction, thus leading to irregular periods.

Genetic factors may also contribute, such as a family history of:

  • PCOS
  • Obesity
  • Diabetes (“sugar”)
  • Hypertension (“pressure”)
  • High cholesterol

What are some of the symptoms of PCOS?

  • Irregular periods (abnormal menstrual cycles)
  • Absence of or fewer than 6-8 periods per year
  • Heavy or prolonged periods
  • Infertility
  • Bad acne (pimples)
  • Facial hair or hair loss noted on the scalp
  • Weight gain or obesity
  • Early signs of diabetes (usually associated with obesity)
  • Depression and anxiety – which is found to affect up to 60% of females with PCOS.

What are some of the potential long-term complications of PCOS?

  • Diabetes
  • Hypertension
  • High cholesterol
  • Heart disease
  • Elevated risk of endometrial cancer (cancer of the uterus).

Is there a test for PCOS?

There is no one test that will lead to this diagnosis but rather a series of evaluations and tests is obtained to determine whether or not PCOS is likely, such as:

  • A thorough history and physical exam
  • Pregnancy test – if irregular periods are reported
  • Blood levels of hormones, sugar and cholesterol
  • Pelvic Ultrasound to see if there are cysts on the ovaries – to note, despite its name, the presence of cysts on the ovaries is not required to make the diagnosis in teenagers, nor is it always associated with pain.

How is PCOS treated?

In most cases, oral contraceptive pills alone can provide relief from the symptoms; however, in some cases, teenagers cannot tolerate OCP’s or need more than one therapy to settle the symptoms; these may involve:

  • Hormone therapy
  • Weight management which may include metformin (diabetes medicine)
  • Acne medicine
  • Presser medicine
  • Cholesterol medicine
  • Antidepressants.

Take Home Message

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In summary, I felt compelled to write about this import condition since September is PCOS Awareness Month.

If your teenage young lady has any of the signs and symptoms as discussed, that does not mean she automatically has PCOS.

However, it does warrant a trip to her paediatrician, as they are all important health challenges that should be addressed in office.

Annual check-ups

Most importantly, I want to remind you that ALL adolescents, male and female, should be evaluated by their paediatrician yearly – at the very least; and not just when Medicals are due, or when they are sick.

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Preventing illness before they occur, or “preventive-care”, is always associated with not only better outcomes but better quality of life.

As a fierce child advocate, I encourage all parents, and adults, not to view teens simply as “little adults” but a well-defined part of childhood (infancy, toddlers, school age, pre-teens, and teenagers) with features that are special to this very critical time of growth and development.

Dr. Ilana Dickson is a paediatric consultant who works from Ruthven Medical Centre on 4 Ruthven Road, New Kingston.

You may call the office @876-920-0267-72 to schedule an appointment, or reach out to her directly via WhatsApp @876-412-5623. You can also follow her on Instagram @doc_dee95!

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