PCOS or Polycystic ovary syndrome is a hormonal deficiency in women that usually raises symptoms including irregular menstrual cycle, abnormal hair growth on face and other body parts. PCOS is also known to make women vulnerable to acne, obesity and diabetes.

The condition PCOS affects the ovaries and ovulation cycle in women leading to the following main concerns:

  • Production of excessive androgens or male hormones
  •  Abnormal or skipped periods
  • Ovary cysts

A patient diagnosed with PCOS experiences an increase in the production of male hormones; however, the ovulating hormones (estrogen and progesterone) production remains lower than usual. The excess male hormones disrupt the menstrual cycle resulting in skipped or fewer periods.  

Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) Causes

The exact reason for PCOS is still unknown. However, some of the suspected theories are:

Genetic: it seems to be passed along via generations

Insulin processing: studies have shown that a woman whose normal bodily function cannot absorb insulin is vulnerable to PCOS.  

Weight: PCOS & weight gain have also been linked. Being overweight has been linked to the production of excess male hormones.

PCOS Symptoms

Some major symptoms of PCOS include:

  • Menstruation: Skipped menstruation, heavy or short menstruation, irregular menstruation
  • Abnormal hair growth: excessive facial hair or male pattern baldness or hair thinning
  • Overweight: nearly 80% of women with PCOS become overweight
  • Skin: oily skin, presence of dark patches, acne formation

Other symptoms include infertility, headaches, sleeplessness, male features and depression.

PCOS Diagnosis & Testing

To diagnose PCOS, your health care provider will analyze your medical health history, weight history and any other accompanying symptoms based on the present symptoms. Some PCOS diagnosing techniques commonly advised are:

Pelvic exam: health care providers will inspect your genital organs mainly ovaries and uterus for any abnormalities or growth.  

Blood test: laboratory blood tests are conducted to determine the male hormone levels. Your blood could be also tested for other abnormalities including cholesterol, insulin, and triglyceride levels to identify the risk of underlying complications like heart disease or diabetes.

Ultrasound: the thickness of the uterus lining or presence of abnormal follicles is checked using ultrasound.

PCOS Treatment

You may be recommended different well-being practices or treatments for alleviating individual concerns. For example, your health care provider might recommend you lose weight. Losing weight on some occasions can suppress male hormones.

Other commonly advised medications are:

Birth control: pills containing estrogen and progesterone are recommended to normalize the hormonal abnormality, thereby helping patients to suppress most PCOS symptoms.

Metformin: increases insulin levels and keeps the diabetes levels in check

Clomiphene: a fertility drug designed to help PCOS diagnosed patient to get pregnant and

Frequently asked questions about PCOS:

What are the 4 types of PCOS?

Insulin-resistant PCOS, Inflammatory PCOS, Hidden-cause PCOS, and Pill-induced PCOS.

What should I not eat with PCOS?

It is ideal to stay away from starchy and sugary diets if you are diagnosed with PCOS.

Does PCOS get worse with age?

PCOS related symptoms like diabetes; heart diseases can worsen with age.

What worsens PCOS?

Gaining weight can worsen PCOS as it forces the body to create more male hormones