Hormones play a vital role in the health and wellbeing of women. Throughout their lifetime, women experience hormonal changes from their first menstrual cycle up until they are post menopausal. Keeping track of your health as you age can help you to make more informed choices about fertility and general female wellness.
Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) is a common condition that affects around 1 in every 10 women in the United Kingdom alone. PCOS affects the ability of a woman's ovaries produce eggs, which can prevent ovulation from occurring.
What causes PCOS?
The exact cause of PCOS is unknown but it often occurs in women who have a family history of PCOS, since it is often hereditary. More than half of women diagnosed with PCOS do not experience any symptoms so knowing whether your family has a history of PCOS may be helpful in determining whether you should take a test.
How is PCOS diagnosed?
If someone thinks they may have PCOS, your doctor would usually perform a pelvic examination and a general physical exam. Since symptoms of PCOS are similar to other health problems, an ultrasound may be used to assess the ovaries. Blood tests are effective at checking levels of hormones and/or blood sugar levels.
Symptoms of PCOS
Symptoms of PCOS include irregular or missed periods, excess hair on the body especially the chest, stomach and back, unexplained weight gain, acne or oily skin, infertility. Unfortunately, there is no cure for PCOS but symptoms can be treated.
Treatment for PCOS
Unfortunately, there is no cure for PCOS but symptoms, if present, can be treated and there are even medicines available to help you improve fertility. Your doctor may also advise you to change certain lifestyle factors and/or your diet.
About Ovarian Reserve
The Ovarian Reserve is defined as the total number of healthy eggs in the ovaries. The number of healthy eggs decreases over time as women age. If Ovarian Reserve levels reach below a certain point, this is referred to as a "diminished ovarian reserve". The lower number of eggs, the lower the chance of fertility.
Women aged over 35 may find it helpful to test their ovarian reserve, especially if they are trying to get pregnant.
How is Ovarian Reserve measured?
Most blood tests measure the level of a specific hormone that is produced by follicles in the ovaries. These types of hormones can be used as an indicator as to the number of eggs that remain in the ovaries – this is known as the ‘Ovarian Reserve’.
Symptoms of Menopause
The most common symptoms of perimenopause/menopause
include irregular periods, hot flashes, vaginal dryness, night sweats, difficulty
sleeping, mood changes, unexplained weight gain and chills.
Treatment for Menopause
The preferred treatment for perimenopause and menopause symptoms is Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) but there are others that exist if you cannot have HRT. HRT medication can replace hormones when they reach low levels, which can reduce symptoms that occur from an imbalance
If you are hoping to get pregnant you might want to consider making some simple lifestyle changes to improve your chance of fertility.
What causes female fertility problems?
Age is a significant factor as to the likelihood of being able to conceive. As women age, the number of healthy eggs in the ovaries decreases and a decline in the number of healthy eggs makes it harder to conceive. PCOS and other medical problems may contribute to fertility problems such as endometriosis, thyroid problems and diabetes.
How can I improve and protect my fertility?
Try to maintain a healthy weight, decrease your caffiene intake and limit the amount of alcohol you consume. Infertility can also occur due to chlamydia and other sexually transmitted infections, always be sure to practice safe sex especially if you are trying to conceive.
Perimenopause, Menopause and Post Menopause
What is perimenopause?
Perimenopause is the time during which the body begins its natural transition into menopause. This tends to happen to women in their early 40s and can last for 5 to 10 years before the menopause phase.
What is menopause?
Menopause is a natural and gradual biological process for all women when ovulation stops (usually defined as menopause when a woman hasn’t had their period in a year). There are three phases to menopause – perimenopause, menopause and post menopause and each phase has its own
What is post menopause?
Post menopause is simply a term that refers to the time after someone has gone through menopause. During this phase menopausal symptoms usually decline but some women may continue to experience symptoms for years later.