What is Polycystic Ovary Syndrome?

A common health condition in women that negatively affects hormones is called polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). This disease usually provokes irregular menstrual periods, excessive hair growth, acne, and infertility. However, several treatment methods are available to lessen the symptoms and even to improve fertility. Furthermore, those who suffer from PCOS are at higher risk of developing other health problems including high blood pressure (hypertension), diabetes, and others.

What is PCOS?

In case the ovaries create an excessive amount of hormones (androgens) it leads to PCOS. Elevated levels of this hormone provoke a reproductive hormone imbalance. That’s why those who experience PCOS notice abnormal menstrual cycles, missed periods, unpredictable ovulation, and others. Moreover, someone can experience small follicle cysts due to anovulation (lack of ovulation), which can be seen on the ovaries on ultrasound.

However, you do not need to have cysts of the ovaries to have PCOS even if the name of this condition contains the word “polycystic”.

One of the most common causes of infertility in females is PCOS. In addition, it may elevate your risk of developing other diseases.

What Age Does Polycystic Ovary Syndrome Begin?

This condition may occur in anyone right after puberty. However, most diagnosed people are between their 20s and 30s. An individual is at higher risk of developing PCOS if there is a family history of PCOS or you are obese.


Check below the common PCOS symptoms:

  • Abnormal Hair Growth – Excessive hair growth usually appears on the face, arms, chest, and abdomen (hirsutism).
  • Irregular Menstrual Periods – Missing menstrual cycle or even not having at all. In some cases, heavy bleeding may happen.
  • Acne – A serious skin condition that appears usually on your skin, chest, and face.
  • Obesity – About 40-80% of people who experience PCOS have obesity.
  • Darkening of the Skin – You may notice certain patches of dark skin (for example on your neck, armpits, groin, and also may appear under breasts). It is also known as acanthosis nigricans.
  • Cysts – Women with polycystic ovary syndrome usually have cysts on their ovaries.
  • Skin Tags
  • Thinning Hair – Some people who experience PCOS may start bald or lose patches of hair.
  • Infertility – One of the most common symptoms of polycystic ovary syndrome is not being able to conceive.

Can I Have Asymptomatic PCOS?

Unfortunately, it is possible to experience this condition and not notice any symptoms. Therefore, while experiencing asymptomatic PCOS you may notice unexplained weight loss, unable to get pregnant, and others.


However, the exact cause of polycystic ovary syndrome is not known but some factors may increase your risk of this condition (such as obesity). Examples include:

  • Increased Levels of Androgens – If you have elevated levels of androgens, they prevent the ovaries from releasing eggs and it leads to irregular menstrual periods, acne, and increased hair growth in females.
  • Insulin Resistance – When a person has increased levels of insulin it leads to a release of male hormones by ovaries. As a result, this male hormone suppresses ovulation and may provoke other polycystic ovary syndrome symptoms.
  • Low-Grade Inflammation – A chronic low-grade inflammation may be experienced by people with this health condition. However, physicians usually perform a blood test to verify levels of white blood cells and C-reactive protein (CRP).

Can Polycystic Ovary Syndrome Provoke a Miscarriage?

In most cases, a woman is able to carry a pregnancy even if have PCOS. In other circumstances, this disease may provoke some complications. Examples include:

  • Hypertension (high blood pressure)
  • Preeclampsia
  • Gestational diabetes
  • Preterm birth (before 37 weeks of pregnancy)
  • C-section delivery is commonly provoked by obesity, high blood pressure, or diabetes.


An examination and discussion about your symptoms are usually the methods that your healthcare professional uses to diagnose this condition. Additionally, they may order you to do a blood test or perform an ultrasound test that will help to confirm whether you have PCOS or not. Physicians may also:

  • Ask you about medical and family history
  • Take your blood pressure and weight
  • Perform a physical examination for hair loss, excess hair, acne, discolored skin, and others.
  • Pelvic examination and ultrasound to check for abnormal bleeding, the thickness of your uterus, and others.


Usually, the treatment is based on the symptoms, the severity of the health condition, other existing diseases, your age, and others. PCOS treatment often involves a combination of medicines, lifestyle changes, and others.

The following treatment examples are for those who do not want to become pregnant. Examples include:

  • Lifestyle Changes – It is recommended to adopt a healthy and nutritious diet to maintain a body weight that is healthy for you.
  • Medicines to Block Androgens – Doctors may prescribe some drugs that will help to decrease androgen production.
  • Insulin-Sensitizing Medication – Women may notice some improvements in PCOS symptoms (such as menstrual cycle) using these medicines. Physicians usually prescribe Metformin, which helps to keep under control insulin levels.
  • Hormonal Birth Control – Birth control methods include patches, spots, vaginal rings, or an intrauterine device (IUD). These medications may help to regulate your periods, improve acne, and get rid of excessive hair.

Check below some examples of treatment that will help to become pregnant:

  • Medications to Induce Ovulation – There are some medications that help to become pregnant such as gonadotropins (injection), Letrozole, and Clomiphene (taken orally).
  • Surgery – This procedure is commonly done in case it is needed to remove some tissue that will help to restore ovulation. However, it is used in rare cases.
  • In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) – It is a procedure used in case medications do not work. During IVF a doctor will fertilize your egg with your partner’s sperm. Thereafter, will transfer it to your uterus.


In severe cases of PCOS, or if it is left untreated, it may lead to certain complications. Examples include:

  • Mental disorders (such as depression, anxiety, and others)
  • Sleep disorders (including sleep apnea)
  • Endometrial cancer or hyperplasia
  • Cardiovascular conditions
  • Hypertension
  • Diabetes, and others.

Ask your doctor in case you have any questions.

Frequently Asked Questions

How common is PCOS?

Approximately 15% of women in their reproductive age experience this health condition.

What are three symptoms to diagnose PCOS?

A doctor can diagnose this condition if you have at least two symptoms. Examples include:

  • Missed or irregular menstrual periods
  • Excessive hair growth and acne due to increased levels of male hormone (androgens)
  • Enlarged or polycystic appearance of ovaries seen on an ultrasound test

Discuss with your healthcare professional for more details.

Is it possible to prevent polycystic ovary syndrome?

Unfortunately, it is impossible to prevent PCOS but early diagnosis and treatment may help to lessen symptoms. Additionally, add in your diet nutritious foods, regular exercise, and maintain a healthy weight because it can help to avoid the unpleasant effects of this disease.

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