PCOS specialist Melbourne
Definition | PCOS Specialist Melbourne
What is PCOS?
You may have PCOS but you may not be aware of it. It is a hormonal disorder and gynaecologists agree that it’s actually quite a complex condition. Often the diagnosis of PCOS is first made only when a couple experiences problems with fertility.
At Melbourne Mothers, we offer a wide range of gynaecology services and if your GP has suggested you may have PCOS, we are here to help.
Symptoms explained | PCOS Specialist Melbourne
The complexity of PCOS lies in the fact that the symptoms are very diverse. Two women with PCOS may experience totally different symptoms and sometimes a patient doesn’t have any symptoms at all.
PCOS is associated with a number of causes that can also be the symptoms:
You may be going through a series of routine tests because you try to fall pregnant and it doesn’t happen. A typical fertility investigation consists of diagnostic tests to check on your ovulation cycle and your gynaecologist may find that your cycle is affected by PCOS.
After you ovulate, the lining of your uterus sheds, and that causes your menstruation. But if your hormone levels fluctuate in irregular ways because of PCOS, you may have an irregular cycle (both your ovulation and your period). I often see the condition being associated with an absence of periods or with heavy periods.
Cysts in the ovaries:
A visual image helps me provide a clear diagnosis and we use medical imaging to get a clear view of the cysts you may have on your ovaries. Polycystic ovarian syndrome means that there can be many cysts; they are filled with fluid and may contain an egg that has not matured. These eggs do not follow the natural cycle and that is why they cause irregular periods.
PCOS symptoms are driven and triggered by a hormone disorder. The symptoms you have may be different to what other women are experiencing. PCOS may cause acne or excessive facial hair growth. But in other patients, we see weight problems or baldness, and symptoms such as sleep apnoea. The first step as your gynaecologist for me is to understand your personal health history, so we understand what is going on.
Risks of associated health conditions:
Polycystic ovary syndrome is often linked to other health issues. That is why it is so important to take a holistic approach and look at your overall women’s health. If you are overweight or you have a problem with obesity, the combination with PCOS may cause high blood pressure, sleep disturbance and even heart disease. PCOS and accompanying obesity may put you at risk of type 2 diabetes, stroke or metabolic syndrome. That is the reason why – as your gynaecologist – I may discuss avenues to lose weight with you, as part of a PCOS management plan.
“Some women find that no matter how little they eat or how hard they exercise, it is impossible for them to shed weight. They may have been told that all their problems are weight-related and be disheartened. Only after formal investigation do we discover that many of these people are actually suffering from a hormone imbalance because of underlying PCOS.”
Diagnosis | PCOS Specialist Melbourne
Your first step may have been that conversation with your GP about your particular symptoms: facial hair, acne, or a weight problem. Your GP may refer you to me so we can plan a more thorough examination and go over your symptoms in more detail.
As a gynaecologist, my next step is to plan routine blood tests. They will give us more information about your hormone levels and these are important indicators to find out if you have a hormonal disorder. We also use ultrasound imaging to find out if there are cysts in your ovaries.
A typical formal diagnostic process means that we combine all the information: your blood results, the ultrasound information and the history of your symptoms and general women’s health.
PCOS Management & treatment
PCOS is often managed in a multi-disciplinary setting: as your gynaecologist, I work with our team of specialist physicians and your GP, to manage and reduce symptoms. If one of your priorities is to improve your chances of falling pregnant, then your treatment plan also focuses on that.
Over the course of a typical PCOS management journey, you may receive prescriptions for one or several of the following drugs – medication should always be selected by your gynaecologist after a formal diagnosis and as part of a treatment plan:
- Birth control medication, sometimes used in this particular case to regulate your cycle.
- Medication to regulate insulin levels and insulin resistance, also known to make your cycle more regular.
- Weight loss medication can be used if you have trouble losing weight in a natural way.
- Hormone treatment such as gonadotropins, which may be used to help you ovulate. in the context of monitored fertility treatment.
PCOS & fertility | PCOS Specialist Melbourne
Pregnancy and PCOS
The management of PCOS often overlaps with the typical routine investigations of a gynaecologist who is also a specialist in helping couples become pregnant. If your main focus is to fall pregnant, you may find that PCOS is the main obstacle.
Polycystic ovary syndrome is known to be a leading cause of infertility in women. So it may well be that your PCOS diagnosis simply comes up as a step in your routine fertility investigations when you are seeing a fertility specialist or a gynaecologist. In this situation, the focus of the management plan may not be on eliminating or reducing all the symptoms, but rather to assist in you falling pregnant. The key message nevertheless is that with the right treatment, almost all women with PCOS can get pregnant.