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Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS): Symptoms, Causes, and Treatment


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Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS): Symptoms, Causes, and Treatment


Polycystic ovary syndrome that is PCOS is a condition that affects a woman’s hormone levels.

Women with Polycystic ovary syndrome produce higher-than-normal amounts of male hormones. This hormone imbalance and causes them to skip the menstrual periods. That makes it harder for them to get pregnant.

Polycystic ovary syndrome also causes hair growth on the face and body and baldness. And it can also contribute to long-term health problems like diabetes and heart disease.

Birth control pills and diabetes drugs can help to fix the hormone imbalance and also improve symptoms.

What is PCOS?

Polycystic ovary syndrome is a problem with hormones that affect women. During their childbearing years, that is ages of 15 to 44. Between 2.2 and 26.7 percent of women in this age group have this disease 1, 2Trusted Source.

Many women have Polycystic ovary syndrome. But don’t know it. In one study, up to 70 percent of the women with PCOS had not been diagnosed 2Trusted Source.

Polycystic ovary syndrome also affects a woman’s ovaries. The reproductive organs that produce estrogen and progesterone are the hormones that regulate the menstrual cycle. The ovaries also produce a small number of male hormones called Androgens.

The ovaries release eggs to be fertilized by a man’s sperm. The release of an egg on each month is called Ovulation.

The Follicle-stimulating hormone is FSH and the luteinizing hormone that is LH control ovulation. Follicle-stimulating hormones encourage the ovary to produce a follicle. The sac that contains an egg and then LH triggers the ovary to release a mature egg.
PCOS is a “syndrome,” or group of symptoms that affects the ovaries and ovulation. Its three main features are:

Cysts in the ovaries

High levels of male hormones

Irregular or skipped periods

In Polycystic ovary syndrome, many small, fluid-filled cysts grow inside the ovaries. The word “polycystic” means “many cysts.”

These cysts are actually follicles. Each one is containing an immature egg. The eggs never mature enough to trigger ovulation.

The lack of ovulation alters levels of estrogen, progesterone, FSH, and LH. Estrogen and progesterone levels are lower than usual. While the androgen levels are higher than usual.

Extra male hormones problem the menstrual cycle. So women with PCOS get fewer periods than usual.

Polycystic ovary syndrome is not a new condition. Italian physician Antonio Vallisneri first described its symptoms in 1721. 3Trusted Source.

What causes it?

Doctors don’t know exactly what causes PCOS. They believe that high levels of male hormones prevent the ovaries from producing the hormones and making eggs normally.

Genes, insulin resistance, and inflammation have all been Interlinked to excess androgen production.


Studies show that PCOS runs in families.

It is likely that many genes are not just ones that contribute to the condition.

The Insulin resistance

Up to 70 percent of women with PCOS have insulin resistance. Meaning that their cells cannot use insulin properly.

Insulin is a hormone, the pancreas produces to help the body. Use of sugar from foods for energy.

When cells cannot use insulin properly. The body’s demand for insulin increases. The pancreas makes more insulin to compensate. Extra insulin triggers the ovaries to produce more male hormones.

Obesity is a major cause of insulin resistance. Both obesity and insulin resistance can increase the risk for type 2 diabetes.


Many women with PCOS frequently have increased levels of inflammation in their bodies. Being overweight can also contribute to inflammation. Studies have linked excess inflammation to higher androgen levels.

The Common symptoms of PCOS

Some women start seeing symptoms around the time of their first period. Others only discover that they have PCOS. After they have gained a lot of weight. They had trouble getting pregnant.

The most common PCOS symptoms are:

The Irregular periods

A lack of ovulation prevents the uterine lining from shedding every month. Some women with PCOS get fewer. Then eight periods a year.

The Heavy bleeding

The uterine lining builds up for a longer period of time. So the periods one do get can be heavier than the normal.

The Hair growth

More than 70 percent of women with this condition grow hair on their face and body. Like on their back, belly, and chest. Excess hair growth is called Hirsutism.

The Acne

Male hormones can make the skin oilier than usual. It causes breakouts on areas like the face, chest, and upper back.

The Weight gain.

Up to 80 percent of women with the disease PCOS are overweight or obese. The Male-pattern baldness. The hair on the scalp gets thinner and falls out.

Darkening of the skin.

Dark patches of skin can form in the body. A line like those on the neck, in the groin, and under the breasts.

The Headaches

Hormone changes can trigger headaches in some women.

How the PCOS affects the body?

Having higher-than-normal androgen levels that can affect fertility. The other aspects of health.

The Infertility

To get pregnant, one has to ovulate. Women who don’t ovulate regularly don’t release as many eggs to be fertilized. PCOS is one of the leading causes of infertility in women.

The Metabolic syndrome

Up to 80 percent of women with PCOS are overweight or obese.  Both obesity and PCOS increase the risk for high blood sugar, high blood pressure, low HDL that is good cholesterol, and high LDL that is bad cholesterol.

Together, these factors are called Metabolic syndrome. They increase the risk for heart disease, diabetes, and stroke.

The Sleep apnea

This condition causes repeated pauses in breathing during the night. Which interrupt sleep.

Sleep apnea is more common in women. Who are overweight.  Especially if they also have PCOS. The risk for sleep apnea is 5 to 10 times higher in obese women. With PCOS than in those without PCOS.

The Endometrial cancer

During ovulation, the uterine lining sheds. If one doesn’t ovulate every month, the lining can build up.

A thickened uterine lining can increase the risk for Endometrial cancer.

The Depression

Both hormonal changes and symptoms like unwanted hair growth can negatively affect emotions. Many with the disease PCOS end up experiencing depression and anxiety.

How PCOS is diagnosed?

Doctors typically diagnose the disease PCOS in women. Who have at least two of these three symptoms:

High androgen levels

Irregular menstrual cycles

Cysts in the ovaries

The doctor should also ask whether one has had symptoms like acne, face and body hair growth, and also weight gain.

A pelvic exam can look for any problems with the ovaries. Other parts of the reproductive tract. During this test, the doctor inserts gloved fingers into the vagina. She checks for any growths in the ovaries or uterus.

Blood tests check for higher-than-normal levels of male hormones. One might also have blood tests to check the cholesterol, insulin, and triglyceride levels. To find the risk for related conditions like heart disease and diabetes.

An ultrasound uses sound waves to look for abnormal follicles. Other problems with the ovaries and uterus.

The Pregnancy and PCOS

PCOS interrupts the normal menstrual cycle. Makes it harder to get pregnant. Between 70 and 80 percent of women with the disease, PCOS have fertility problems.

This condition can also increase the risk for pregnancy complications.

Women with PCOS are twice as likely as women. Without the condition to deliver their baby prematurely. They are also at greater risk for miscarriage, high blood pressure, and gestational diabetes.

However, women with PCOS can get pregnant by using fertility treatments that improve ovulation. Losing weight and lowering blood sugar levels can improve the odds of having a healthy pregnancy.

Diet and lifestyle tips to treat the disease PCOS

Treatment for PCOS usually starts with lifestyle changes like weight loss, diet, and exercise.

Losing just 5 to 10 percent of the body weight can help to regulate the menstrual cycle. Improve the disease PCOS symptoms. Weight loss can also improve cholesterol levels, lower insulin. it also reduces heart disease and diabetes risks.

Any diet that helps one to lose weight can help the condition. However, some diets may have advantages over others.

Studies comparing diets for PCOS have found that low-carbohydrate diets are effective. For both weight loss and lowering insulin levels. A low glycemic index is a low-GI diet that gets most carbohydrates from fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. It helps to regulate the menstrual cycle better than a regular weight loss diet.

A few studies have found that 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise. At least three days a week can help women with PCOS lose weight. Losing weight with exercise can also improve ovulation and insulin levels.

Exercise is even more beneficial when combined with a healthy diet. Diet plus exercise also helps one to lose more weight than either intervention alone. It lowers the risks for diabetes and also heart disease.

There is some proof that acupuncture can help with improving PCOS. But more research is needed.

The Common medical treatments

Birth control pills and other medicines can also help to regulate the menstrual cycle. Treat the PCOS symptoms like hair growth and acne.

The Birth control

Taking estrogen and progestin daily can restore a normal hormone balance, regulate ovulation, relieve symptoms like excess hair growth. Protect against endometrial cancer. These hormones come in a pill, patch, or vaginal ring.

The Metformin

Metformin that is Glucophage, Fortamet. It is a drug used to treat type 2 diabetes. It also treats the disease PCOS by improving insulin levels.

One study found that taking metformin. While making changes to diet and exercise improves weight loss, lowers blood sugar. Restores a normal menstrual cycle better than the changes to diet and exercise alone.

The Clomiphene

Clomiphene that is Clomid is a fertility drug. That can help women with PCOS to get pregnant. However, it increases the risk for twins and other multiple births.

Hair removal medicines

A few treatments can help to get rid of unwanted hair. To stop it from growing. Eflornithine that is Vaniqa cream is a prescription drug. That slows hair growth. Laser hair removal and electrolysis can get rid of unwanted hair on the face and body.

The Surgery

Surgery can be an option to improve fertility. If other treatments don’t work. Ovarian drilling is a procedure that makes tiny holes in the ovary with a laser or thin heated needle to restore normal ovulation.

When to see a doctor?

See the doctor if:

One has missed periods and one is not pregnant.

has symptoms of PCOS, like hair growth on the face and body.

One has been trying to get pregnant for more than 12 months. But have not been successful.

One has symptoms of diabetes, like excessive thirst or hunger, blurred vision, or unexplained weight loss.

If one has PCOS, plan a regular visit with the primary care doctor. One will need regular tests to check for diabetes, high blood pressure, and other possible complications.

If one is concerned about PCOS and doesn’t already have an endocrinologist. One can view doctors in the area through the Healthline FindCare tool.

The bottom line

The PCOS can interrupt a woman’s menstrual cycles. Make it harder to get pregnant. The High levels of male hormones also lead to unwanted symptoms. Like hair growth on the face and body.

Lifestyle improvements are the first treatments that doctors recommend for PCOS. They frequently work well. Weight loss can treat PCOS symptoms. Improve the odds of getting pregnant. Diet and aerobic exercise are also two effective ways to lose weight.

Medicines are an option if lifestyle changes don’t work. Birth control pills and metformin can both restore more normal menstrual cycles and also relieve PCOS symptoms.

So, this is the important information on the topic of Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS): Symptoms, Causes, and Treatment.

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