Common gynecologic condition with diverse range of symptoms requires precise treatment
One of the most common hormone disorders for women, polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) can prove difficult to diagnose in some patients. The multisymptomatic disorder, which affects 5-10% of women, is characterized by clinical or biochemical evidence of elevated androgens and irregular menstrual cycles. Because patients can experience varying effects, no two patients are the same says Michelle Roach, MD, assistant professor of Obstetrics & Gynecology and director of PCOS clinic at the Vanderbilt Center for Women’s Health.
“There’s no single test we use to make a diagnosis. And symptoms can be variable among patients. Many patients have irregular periods, abnormal hair growth, infertility or struggle with their weight. However, about 15-20% of patients are normal or thin,” Roach said. “It can be a tricky diagnosis.”
A collaborative model for PCOS care
Vanderbilt University Medical Center (VUMC) established the comprehensive PCOS clinic in 2017 to help diagnose and treat patients with the disorder. Since the PCOS clinic is located at One Hundred Oaks, patients can easily access other specialized services such as endocrinology, weight loss, bariatric surgery and dermatology all under one roof.
The PCOS clinic partners with referring physicians to provide care including patient counseling, fertility treatments and long-term treatment planning.
“Most patients with PCOS need counseling and education on the different symptoms and treatment options, and physicians in other clinics may not always have the time to sit with the patient and discuss these things in depth, so this clinic provides a place for patients to get the answers and comprehensive care they need,” said Roach. “Many women may have never received appropriate counseling. We are able to provide complete care to patients with PCOS, which really can change lives.“
Through this new approach to treatment, the PCOS clinic has helped improve patient outcomes.
“We’re goal-oriented,” said Roach. “Whether the goal is to get pregnant, lose weight or eliminate irregular menstrual periods. Our approach is to work with the patient and provider on individualized care plans and provide the support patients need. We’ve achieved numerous success stories with this approach.”