Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a condition defined by the presence of a large number of harmless cysts (fluid filled sacs) in a woman’s ovaries and that hamper a ovulation. It is one of the commonest hormonal conditions, affecting up to 20% of women.
Although the exact cause of PCOS is unknown there is a genetic link and it runs in families.. It is also associated with having abnormal levels of insulin and testosterone in the body. Being overweight can increases the body’s insulin levels which in turn can cause a woman’s body to produce more, abnormal levels of testosterone.
You may be diagnosed with PCOS if you have at least two of the following symptoms:
- Heavy and/or irregular periods
- No periods at all
- Excessive Acne
- Hirsutism (excessive hair growth)
- Hair loss (alopaecia)
- Difficulty conceiving
Some women with polycystic ovaries have no symptoms and are only diagnosed with the condition when they experience difficulties becoming pregnant. Others may have some, but not all, of the symptoms, which may be mild, moderate or severe. Your symptoms may also change over time and can be affected by a number of other factors such as diet and life-style.
Having PCOS can increase the risks of developing other conditions later in life. These include Type 2 diabetes, depression, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, heart disease and stroke.
PCOS is usually diagnosed after discussing your symptoms with your consultant and having a pelvic ultrasound scan. This should ideally be carried out shortly after your period along with a blood test to measure the levels of various hormones in your blood including the male hormone testosterone. Management and treatment is done after careful diagnosis and thorough evaluation.