By Maria Luisa Gasparri, MD, ObGyn member of Doctors in Italy, working in Rome, Italy
Gaining weight and growing lots of facial or body hair, along with greasy skin and pimples? You probably need a gynecologist more than a beautician!
My name is Dr. Maria Luisa Gasparri, and I’m an MD, ObGyn in Rome, Italy. If you are an expatriate, local, or a traveler in Rome, I’m here to help.
The most common symptoms of Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) are irregular periods, tendency to gain weight, acne (greasy skin and pimples), growth of facial and body hair, and loss of hair from the scalp. Unfortunately, sometimes the symptoms of PCOS remain underestimated until a woman experiences the inability to get pregnant – a typical secondary symptom of PCOS – and seeks help from a gynecologist.
The ovaries of women with PCOS make many small collections of fluid, called follicles, instead of one big one every month. None of these small follicles is capable of growing to a size that would trigger ovulation, thus leading to periods without ovulation, and consequently, an inability to conceive.
As a result, hormone levels such as estrogen, progesterone, LH, and FSH, become unbalanced and get caught up in a vicious cycle. This hormonal disequilibrium also increases the risk of diabetes, high cholesterol, and cardiovascular disease.
If ovulation isn’t occurring regularly, the lining of the uterus, called the endometrium, becomes thicker and may shed irregularly, which can result in heavy and/or prolonged bleeding. It could also result in irregular or absent menstrual periods. This can increase a woman’s risk of endometrial overgrowth, called endometrial hyperplasia – a condition of excessive proliferation of the cells of the inner lining of the uterus- or even endometrial cancer.
A visit to your gynecologist complete with a physical examination with ultrasound and a blood test should be done when one or more of these symptoms are experienced. If your gynecologist confirms the diagnosis of PCOS, additional blood tests are usually performed to rule out associated clinical conditions.
Once the diagnosis is made, the treatment will be tailored to each patient, according to her grade of disease, personal habits, and most significant symptoms. In certain conditions, drugs are prescribed that work by blocking hormones that cause some of the PCOS symptoms; in other instances, other drugs can help to regularize a woman’s periods and improve the chances of getting pregnant in the future.
Women with PCOS are able to live normal lives, but it is important to have regular check-ups with your gynecologist. Untreated PCOS can increase a woman’s risk of other health problems over time. A prompt diagnosis and a personalized treatment plan will help your symptoms and protect you from other diseases.
If you have a question or would like to schedule an appointment, don’t hesitate to get in touch with me at the Doctors in Italy clinic in Rome.
About the Author
Maria Luisa Gasparri is a Medical Doctor specialized in Obstetrics and Gynecology. She is member of Medical Faculty Academic Board, “Sapienza” University of Rome.
She has been the youngest Italian gynecologist with National academic competence qualification as Associate Professor.
Currently PhD fellow at the Department of Gynecology and Obstetrics, University Hospital of Berne, Berne, Switzerland and Department of Surgical and Medical Sciences and Translational Medicine, University of Rome Sapienza.
Recently awarded with “Bernische Krebsliga” Grant. Title of the project: “Redirecting the natural history of HPV infection through immune check point inhibitors”.
Author and co-author of more than 60 papers in international peer-reviewed medical journals regarding reproductive medicine, early detection for gynecological malignancies.
Fields of interest: Pregnancy and reproductive medicine, early detection for gynecological malignancies