Polycystic Ovary Syndrome

What is Polycystic Ovary Syndrome?

Polycystic Ovary Syndrome is a common hormonal disorder that affects women of reproductive age by causing an enlargement of the ovaries. The reproductive organs also become covered in numerous small cysts. The cysts themselves are not harmful or serious, but they do create a hormonal imbalance. This causes the woman’s hormones to trigger each other in an abnormal way, which can lead to various complications.

It is not yet fully understood why this happens. However, it is thought that genetics may play a roll. Women who have a family history of polycystic ovary syndrome or diabetes seem to have a higher chance of experiencing it. It is also worth noting that it can be passed down from the father’s side as well as the mother’s. Polycystic ovary syndrome may only last for a while, or it can be a life long condition. It usually begins shortly after a woman hits puberty, but it may also develop in later years.

What are the Symptoms of Polycystic Ovary Syndrome?

As with many disorders, every woman experiences polycystic ovary syndrome in a different way. While usually mild in the beginning, some women experience few symptoms while others see a lot of them. The most common ones include:

  • Menstrual irregularity
  • Acne
  • Thinning hair on the scalp
  • High blood sugar
  • Weight gain
  • Depression
  • Trouble losing weight
  • Excessive body and facial hair growth
  • Fertility issues
  • Ovaries covered in cysts (visible on ultrasound)

Additionally, untreated polycystic ovary syndrome can lead to long-term complications, such as heart disease and type 2 diabetes.

How is Polycystic Ovary Syndrome Treated?

Treatment for polycystic ovary syndrome is usually focused on managing the patient’s main concerns. Some doctors might recommend lifestyle changes such as increased activity, dietary changes, and weight loss. In other cases, medications can be used to regulate the woman’s menstrual cycle, aid with ovulation if she is trying to become pregnant, or control excessive hair growth.

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Last Reviewed:
September 14, 2016
Last Updated:
August 29, 2017
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