Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) and Menopause

Polycystic Ovaries affects approximately 1 in 5 women and it can cause irregular periods. Although Polycystic Ovary Syndrome doesn't rule out medical treatment for menopause symptoms it can complicate the identification of menopausal symptoms.

Is it more difficult to recognise the menopause if you have PCOS?

The most common hormonal problem among women is polycystic (or polycystic ovary) syndrome. Women with PCOS may experience irregular periods and long periods without periods. Some women may also have menorrhoea (amenorrhoea) or have no periods at all. If you have PCOS, changes in your periods can be less likely to be a sign of perimenopause. Hot flushes and night-sweats can be a sign of menopause, but not necessarily PCOS.

Both conditions can cause mood and sleep problems. Both conditions can cause hair loss, increased hair growth, and acne. PCOS symptoms can be present for years. This is because PCOS often develops in your 20s or early 20s. PCOS symptoms, which can include irregular periods and fluctuating periods, may be intermittent or permanent. If you're overweight, symptoms tend to be more severe.

If you're over 45 years old, any changes in your periods, moods, skin, or hair may be caused by the perimenopause. This is especially true if it is associated with night sweats or hot flushes.

If you're not sure, it's worth speaking to your doctor. Sometimes, a blood test that looks at hormone levels may be helpful.

Women with PCOS may need to be prescribed the combined oral contraceptive pills (COCP), which will give regular periods and prevent overgrowth of their lining. Women with PCOS who experience less than four periods per year for a long time have an increased risk of developing endometrial carcinoma. This is why the COCP (or intermittent progesterone treatment that causes a bleeding) may be prescribed. Your doctor will discuss when you should stop taking the COCP and if you want to discontinue it.

Is it possible to take HRT even if you have PCOS

Yes, HRT can be taken if you have PCOS. However, this is only if there are no medical reasons to not take it. The HRT will provide all of the usual benefits. Non-hormonal lifestyle changes that are recommended for women who have menopause can also be helpful, particularly if you are concerned about weight loss.

Is PCOS a factor in the recommended HRT type?

Transdermal estrogen (patches and gel) is the best choice. The Intra Uterine System Mirena, also known as Mirena hormonal coil or Mirena hormonal system, is a safe choice for progesterone. It works locally to thin out the endometrium and lowers the risk of developing womb cancer. Micronized progesterone tablets like Utrogestan, are safe. You should also consider other risks and seek individual advice about HRT.

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