PCOS (Polycystic Ovary Syndrome): Symptoms & Treatment

PCOS (Polycystic Ovary Syndrome) is a hormonal disorder that affects women, causing irregular periods, infertility, and other symptoms. Learn about its causes, diagnosis, and available treatments.

PCOS stands for Polycystic Ovary Syndrome. It’s a common hormonal disorder that affects many women. It can cause irregular periods, excessive hair growth, acne, and make it hard to get pregnant.1
The condition is quite complex. If not treated, it can lead to several health problems. The main cause of PCOS is still unknown. Yet, experts think it’s linked to our genes, hormones, and the world around us.2 PCOS might raise your chances of getting type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, heart issues, and cancer in the uterus.1
Treating PCOS involves looking at what symptoms you have, what you hope for in terms of family, and your overall health. Options range from changing how you live, using certain medicines, to sometimes needing help from science to have a baby.

Key Takeaways

  • PCOS is a common hormonal disorder affecting women of childbearing age.
  • Symptoms include irregular periods, excess hair growth, acne, and infertility.
  • PCOS can increase the risk of other health issues like diabetes, high blood pressure, and endometrial cancer.
  • Treatment options vary based on individual needs and may include lifestyle changes, medication, and assisted reproductive technologies.
  • Early diagnosis and effective management of PCOS are crucial for maintaining overall health and well-being.

Understanding Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)

PCOS is a hormonal disorder affecting women during their fertile years. It’s defined by the growth of many small ovarian cysts. These can disrupt the usual ovulation. This condition is quite common, touching 5-10% of women capable of pregnancy.2 Those with a family history of PCOS or who are overweight face a higher risk.2

What is PCOS?

It’s a tricky hormonal issue leading to symptoms like irregular periods and too much androgen. It can also cause the ovaries to become polycystic. This imbalance deeply affects a woman’s health and life quality.

Prevalence and Risk Factors

PCOS hits around 5-10% of women who can bear children.2 It’s influenced by family history, insulin problems, and being overweight.2 Knowing its commonness and risks is key for early spotting and handling.

PCOS SymptomsDiagnostic Criteria
Irregular or missed periods2Presence of at least two of the following:

  • Irregular periods2
  • Excess androgen leading to hirsutism2
  • Polycystic ovaries2
Excess androgen leading to hirsutism, acne, and male-pattern baldness2
Polycystic ovaries2

Symptoms of PCOS

PCOS (Polycystic Ovary Syndrome) shows with irregular or missed periods.2 Women with PCOS might have fewer than nine periods yearly, or over 35 days between.2

Excess Androgen Levels

PCOS often means too many male hormones, called androgens.2 This can cause more body and facial hair, acne, and even balding2. These problems are worse in people who are obese.2

Polycystic Ovaries

Having many small cysts on your ovaries is a major sign of PCOS.2 These cysts are seen on ultrasound and mess with normal ovulation.2 To get a PCOS diagnosis, you need at least two of these: irregular periods, too much androgen, or polycystic ovaries.2

PCOS symptoms

PCOS (Polycystic Ovary Syndrome): Causes and Mechanisms

The cause of PCOS isn’t completely clear. But, experts think it’s a mix of things.3 Insulin resistance, where the body’s cells don’t react well to insulin, is a big part.34 Another key factor is ongoing low-level inflammation. It is also believed that genes and family history play a role in getting PCOS.34

Insulin Resistance

Insulin resistance stands out in PCOS cases.34 It causes issues with hormones and how the body processes energy.3 In women with PCOS, their bodies can overproduce insulin. This can cause the health problems we see in PCOS.3


Continual low-level inflammation is tied to PCOS getting worse.3 In PCOS, hormones known as androgens change into estrogens. When this happens more in obese patients, it starts a loop of unhealthy conditions.3

Genetics and Heredity

The chance of getting PCOS seems to run in families.34 Studies on twins say that about 70% of PCOS might be due to genes. This points to genes as a major factor in causing PCOS.34

Insulin Resistance – Abnormal insulin-resistant hyperinsulinism in PCOS
– Association with metabolic dysregulation in PCOS
Inflammation – Chronic low-grade inflammation linked to PCOS
– Increased estrogen production in obese PCOS patients
Genetics and Heredity – Estimated heritability of PCOS: ~70%
– Genetic and hereditary factors contribute to PCOS risk

Diagnosing PCOS

Diagnosing PCOS (Polycystic Ovary Syndrome) needs a detailed process. This includes a physical check, ultrasound, and blood work.5

Physical Examination

Doctors look for signs like too much facial hair or acne. This helps them spot if the body is making too many androgens.5

Ultrasound Imaging

Ultrasound scans help find small cysts on the ovaries. These cysts are a main sign of PCOS.5

See also  Diabetes' Impact on the Endocrine System: Understanding

Blood Tests

Blood work tests the hormone levels in your body. High levels of androgens can signal PCOS.5

To get a PCOS diagnosis, meeting two out of three criteria is necessary. This includes irregular periods, high androgen signs, or those small cysts on the ovaries.6

Treatment Options for PCOS

Dealing with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) often means using different steps.7 This can include changing how you live and using medicines.7 Dropping just 5% of your weight can make PCOS symptoms much better.7 It’s smart to stay in a healthy weight range, between 18.5 and 24.9 BMI.7 You can figure out your own BMI using tools online.7

Lifestyle Modifications

Making changes in your daily habits can be key in managing PCOS.5 If you lose 5% of your weight by eating fewer calories and doing some exercise, it really helps.5 This can lower your insulin and androgen levels, help you ovulate, and avoid health issues like insulin resistance and diabetes.

Medications for Ovulation Induction

7 For women with PCOS wanting to get pregnant, they might start with Clomifene.7 Letrozole is another choice to jump-start ovulation, but it’s used in a way not officially approved.7 If pills don’t work, doctors might suggest gonadotrophins for fertility.7

Birth Control Pills

7 The pill with estrogen and progestin helps a lot of women with PCOS. It makes your cycle regular, lowers androgens, and repairs problems with your hair.5 Plus, it decreases the chance of getting cancer in the uterus.

Insulin-Sensitizing Drugs

7 Metformin is a drug that makes you more sensitive to insulin. It’s known to bring down insulin and blood sugar in women with PCOS.8 Studies suggest metformin can make you ovulate if you have PCOS, with success rates from 63.8% to 70.1%.8

PCOS treatment options

Fertility and PCOS

PCOS stands for Polycystic Ovary Syndrome. It’s a top reason why women might struggle to get pregnant. The issue lies in hormone imbalances and ovulation disruptions. These can hinder the chance of becoming pregnant.9 It’s the most common reason for not ovulating as expected and is a big factor in infertility cases.9 Luckily, there are treatments available. These include medicines and procedures to assist in getting pregnant.

Challenges with Infertility

It’s tough for women with PCOS to conceive. They deal with changes in hormones and ovulation that are not regular. This makes it hard to plan when to have intercourse or when to use treatments to help ovulation happen.10 Also, PCOS makes women more likely to face problems like giving birth earlier than expected or developing pre-eclampsia.10

Assisted Reproductive Technologies

Good news is, there are many ways to help PCOS women with fertility. Some treatments aim to make ovaries release an egg, like using clomiphene citrate or letrozole. Both are medications.10 IVF is also an option. It involves taking out eggs, fertilizing them outside the body, then placing them back inside the uterus.10 There’s also IUI, where sperm is put directly in the uterus. And the use of metformin or drugs that help your body better use insulin can be helpful too.10

Many women with PCOS can and do have babies with the right care.10 It’s crucial for them to team up with their doctor. Together, they can make a plan that suits their personal fertility needs and wishes.

Managing PCOS Complications

Women with PCOS (Polycystic Ovary Syndrome) have a higher risk of health issues. These include metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and endometrial cancer.1 Metabolic syndrome includes high blood pressure, blood sugar, and cholesterol. It greatly increases heart and blood vessel disease risk.1 PCOS also raises the risk of type 2 diabetes and endometrial cancer. Proper care and checks for PCOS are very important.

Metabolic Syndrome

PCOS can lead to metabolic syndrome. It raises the risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes. This can include being overweight, high blood pressure, sugar, and cholesterol.1 Lifestyle changes and specific medical help against PCOS can lower these risks.

Type 2 Diabetes

Type 2 diabetes is a major worry for those with PCOS. It often comes with insulin resistance, causing metabolic issues.1 Regularly checking blood sugar and improving insulin reaction through weight control and exercise are key to avoiding or handling type 2 diabetes.

Cardiovascular Disease

PCOS’ hormonal and metabolic issues can spike cardiovascular disease risks. This includes high blood pressure, bad cholesterol, and artery clogging.1 A mix approach focusing on reproduction and heart health is vital. It helps cut cardiovascular problem risks in these individuals.

Endometrial Cancer

PCOS raises the chance of endometrial cancer. This type of uterine cancer happens more often because of long-term estrogen exposure.1 Regular checks and active PCOS care, even using hormonal treatments, can lower the endometrial cancer danger.

See also  Diabetes' Impact on the Endocrine System: Understanding

Living with PCOS

Living with PCOS (Polycystic Ovary Syndrome) can be difficult. It affects a woman both physically and emotionally. Symptoms like too much hair growth, acne, and gaining weight can lower self-esteem and mental health.1

Emotional Support

It’s crucial to find emotional support when dealing with PCOS. This help can come from therapy, support groups, or other methods.11

A case study showed that stress can make PCOS worse. This highlights the importance of treating the body and mind together.11

Stress can upset the body’s hormonal balance and slow down recovery. Studies also show that reducing stress is key to managing PCOS.11

Cosmetic Treatments

Treatments like electrolysis or laser hair removal can enhance life quality. For women with PCOS, these methods are beneficial.1 They help with the emotional and social hurdles linked to PCOS.

To improve life with PCOS, holistic approaches are best. By treating both body and mind, women can feel better overall.11


PCOS and Pregnancy

Getting pregnant can be tougher for women with PCOS (Polycystic Ovary Syndrome). This hormonal disorder affects many women, messing with their chances of having a baby. It also raises risks for both mom and baby during pregnancy.12

Risks and Considerations

One big issue for women with PCOS is gestational diabetes. It happens during pregnancy and is more likely for them.13 Also, they face a greater chance of preeclampsia. This condition can harm the mom’s and the baby’s health by raising blood pressure and causing organ damage.13

Gestational Diabetes

When pregnant, some women with PCOS might struggle with how they process sugar. This can lead to more cases of gestational diabetes and insulin problems for them.12 Because of this, they might have to deal with issues like having a bigger baby or needing a c-section to deliver.13


Another serious risk for women with PCOS is preeclampsia. This is when high blood pressure and organ damage happen while pregnant.13 Watching these moms-to-be closely and treating them carefully is crucial for the health of both the mother and baby.12

Healthcare providers are key in fighting these risks of PCOS during pregnancy. They can plan special treatments and monitor their patients closely. This helps in keeping the mom and baby safe.121314

Future Research and Advancements

Research on PCOS (Polycystic Ovary Syndrome) keeps growing. Scientists are diving into the disease’s genetic and molecular roots. They are also looking into new treatments to help women with PCOS.15 We hope these efforts will lead to better ways to diagnose, treat, and handle PCOS.

In the recent years, the field of PCOS has seen a big increase. Over 10,000 articles have been written about it.16 This shows how much attention PCOS is getting worldwide. Many top researchers and journals are working hard to improve our understanding.

Key figures like Wang Y, Zhang Y, and LI Y have shared a lot of knowledge about PCOS. These experts, and schools like SHAHID BEHESHTI UNIV MED SCI, have helped lead PCOS research.16 Their work is crucial for advancing our fight against PCOS.

While PCOS research is moving forward, there’s still more to do. The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism is a top source in PCOS studies. It has been widely referenced with over 48,000 citations.16 PCOS articles are also being noticed, but they could use more impact. Their average yearly citations are not as high as they could be.16 More work is needed for PCOS research to truly stand out.

The future looks bright for understanding and treating PCOS. With advancing research, we’ll likely experience major strides in its handling. Together, researchers and doctors aim to make a real difference for women with PCOS in the years ahead.

Prevention Strategies for PCOS

The causes of PCOS (Polycystic Ovary Syndrome) are not all clear. But, lifestyle choices are key in preventing and managing it. Through the right prevention strategies, women can lessen their symptoms and boost their health.

Maintaining a Healthy Weight

Maintaining a healthy weight is crucial for PCOS management. Studies reveal links between PCOS and obesity, inflammation, and insulin issues.17 Keeping a healthy weight with the right diet and exercise plan enhances insulin sensitivity and reduces PCOS symptoms.

Regular Exercise

Staying active is vital for those with PCOS. Physical activity boosts insulin sensitivity, aids in weight loss, and decreases risks of diabetes and heart problems.5 A mix of aerobic, strength, and flexibility exercises is good for PCOS management.

See also  Diabetes' Impact on the Endocrine System: Understanding

Balanced Diet

A diet that fights inflammation can tackle PCOS symptoms.17 The Mediterranean diet is often suggested. It includes healthy fats, whole grains, fruits, veggies, and lean meats.17 It’s also important to avoid certain foods. These include fried foods, saturated fats, and refined carbs, which can make PCOS symptoms worse.17

Following these strategies lets women be active in their PCOS management. Eating well, exercising regularly, and staying at a healthy weight significantly improve life for those with this hormonal imbalance.


PCOS, or Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, is a common hormonal issue in women. It happens during their fertile years.18 While we don’t know all its reasons, we do know genes can be a big part.18 Thanks to better technology, we can now find PCOS more easily. This is important for spotting it early.18

A lot of treatments help deal with PCOS’s signs and other health problems. Drugs like metformin, clomiphene, and letrozole work well. They help the body use insulin better and keep blood sugar in check.18 Hormone therapies and statins are also valuable. They tackle the tough issues people with PCOS face.18

Our knowledge about PCOS is growing fast. This means life can get better for those with PCOS. Knowing the signs, causes, and treatments is key for managing PCOS.19 People with PCOS can team up with doctors to look after their health. By changing their lifestyle, taking medicine, and always being in touch with their doctors, they can fight PCOS and stay healthy.


What is PCOS?

PCOS stands for Polycystic Ovary Syndrome. It’s a common hormonal disorder in women. Women with PCOS may have irregular periods, grow more hair, get acne, and face infertility problems. This condition is complex and can lead to serious health issues if not treated.

How common is PCOS?

PCOS affects 5-10% of women in their childbearing years. Those with PCOS in their family or who are overweight have a higher risk.

What are the main symptoms of PCOS?

PCOS can cause irregular periods and excessive male hormone levels. Signs include extra hair on the face and body, acne, and thinning hair. Ovarian cysts are also common.

What causes PCOS?

The cause of PCOS isn’t confirmed, but a mix of factors plays a role. These include insulin issues, ongoing low-level inflammation, and genetic aspects.

How is PCOS diagnosed?

Doctors diagnose PCOS with a physical exam, ovarian ultrasound, and hormone blood tests. These tests help check androgens, the male hormones.

How is PCOS treated?

Managing PCOS often involves lifestyle tips like being active and eating well, alongside medications. These drugs can help with ovulation, periods, and insulin resistance.

How does PCOS affect fertility?

PCOS can make getting pregnant hard due to hormone imbalances and issues with ovulation. Yet, there are treatments, from medicine to assisted reproductive tech, that increase the chances of pregnancy.

What are the long-term health risks associated with PCOS?

PCOS raises the risks of metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and endometrial cancer. Managing PCOS carefully is crucial to avoid these problems.

How can women with PCOS manage the emotional and psychological aspects of the condition?

Dealing with PCOS can be tough both physically and mentally. It’s key to get support from counseling, support groups, or other sources. Also, cosmetic treatments can boost self-esteem by helping with visible symptoms.

What are the considerations for women with PCOS during pregnancy?

Women with PCOS have a higher chance of gestational diabetes and preeclampsia. It’s vital to watch these conditions closely during pregnancy for the health of both mother and baby.

What are the latest advancements in PCOS research and treatment?

New studies are enhancing our insight into PCOS and how to treat it. Research is diving into the genetics and molecules of PCOS. It’s also looking at innovative therapies that could make a difference in women’s lives.

How can women with PCOS prevent or manage their condition?

Staying at a healthy weight by exercising and eating well can boost how insulin works and cut down on PCOS symptoms. Such lifestyle choices, involving lots of whole foods, are great for warding off or handling PCOS.

Source Links

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  4. https://emedicine.medscape.com/article/256806-overview
  5. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/pcos/diagnosis-treatment/drc-20353443
  6. https://nyulangone.org/conditions/polycystic-ovary-syndrome/diagnosis
  7. https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/polycystic-ovary-syndrome-pcos/treatment/
  8. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3039006/
  9. https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/polycystic-ovary-syndrome
  10. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4642490/
  11. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9891029/
  12. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3659904/
  13. https://www.pregnancybirthbaby.org.au/pcos-and-pregnancy
  14. https://www.nichd.nih.gov/health/topics/pcos/more_information/FAQs/pregnancy
  15. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9967025/
  16. https://ovarianresearch.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s13048-022-01072-3
  17. https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/wellness-and-prevention/pcos-diet
  18. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3737989/
  19. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4341818/