PCOS, which stands for, polycystic ovary syndrome is a condition that causes irregular menstrual periods because monthly ovulation is not happening normally and male hormone levels (androgens) are elevated. PCOS occurs in approximately 5 to 10% of all women. Some of the more pronounce side effects, such as excessive facial growth and male-pattern baldness or hair thinning are a direct result of the increase in androgens. Most (but not all) women who are diagnosed PCOS are overweight. For women with PCOS who want to become pregnant, fertility pills or injections are often needed to help women ovulate.
Although PCOS is not completely reversible, there are a number of treatments that may significantly reduce symptoms. Most women with PCOS are able to lead normal lives without significant complications through a combination of healthy lifestyle changes and treatment.
PCOS cannot be diagnosed with a specific test. You may be diagnosed with PCOS based upon your symptoms, blood tests, and a physical examination. Expert groups have determined that a woman must have two out of three of the following to be diagnosed with PCOS:
Even though there is no specific PCOS gene that is passed down genetically, women with a familial history of PCOS are at a higher risk for developing PCOS.
The latest science does show evidence that there is a genetic link even though the exact gene has not been identified.
Yes. Women with PCOS are more likely to have other health problems, too. These include:
The first-line treatment is to take birth control pills. If this proves to be ineffective or not as effective, there are other treatments than can help with symptoms, such as:
Yes, however, it is possible to live a full and normal life with PCOS. It is highly recommended to see a qualified doctor specializing in PCOS. Treatments may, in most cases, help your symptoms as well as protect you from other diseases.
It’s also important to talk to your doctor or nurse if you feel depressed or anxious, think you might have an eating disorder, or have problems with sex. There are treatments that can help with these problems, too.
The following organizations also provide reliable health information.
Yes, see our twenty tips for helping to treat PCOS symptoms:
More Info About PCOS provided by ACOG (The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists)
Reference: Barbieri, R. L.; Ehrmann, D. A.; Goltyapina, N. Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). UpToDate 2021. Compiled by Nikita Goltyapin, CCEMT-P, NRP
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