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Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a hormonal disorder common among women of reproductive age. Women with PCOS may have infrequent or prolonged menstrual periods or excess male hormone (androgen) levels. The ovaries may develop numerous small collections of fluid (follicles) and fail to regularly release eggs.

Common symptoms of PCOS

Some women start seeing symptoms around the time of their first period. Others only discover they have PCOS after they’ve gained a lot of weight or they’ve had trouble getting pregnant


The exact cause of PCOS is unknown.

Early diagnosis and treatment along with weight loss may reduce the risk of long-term complications such as type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

 High levels of male hormones prevent the ovaries from producing hormones and making eggs normally.Genes, insulin resistance, and inflammation have all been linked to excess androgen production.

Complications of PCOS can include:

  • Infertility

  • Gestational diabetes or pregnancy-induced high blood pressure

  • Miscarriage or premature birth


  • Metabolic syndrome — a cluster of conditions including high blood pressure, high blood sugar, and abnormal cholesterol or triglyceride levels that significantly increase your risk of cardiovascular disease

  • Type 2 diabetes or prediabetes

  • Sleep apnea

  • Depression, anxiety and eating disorders

  • Abnormal uterine bleeding

  • Cancer of the uterine lining (endometrial cancer)

  • Obesity is associated with PCOS and can worsen complications of the disorder.


The most common PCOS symptoms are:

  • Irregular periods. A lack of ovulation prevents the uterine lining from shedding every month. Some women with PCOS get fewer than eight periods a year or none at all.

  • Heavy bleeding. The uterine lining builds up for a longer period of time, so the periods you do get can be heavier than normal.

  • Hair growth. More than 70 percent of women with this condition grow hair on their face and body — including on their back, belly, and chest .

  • Acne. Male hormones can make the skin oilier than usual and cause breakouts on areas like the face, chest, and upper back

  • Weight gain. Up to 80 percent of women with PCOS are overweight or have obesity .

  • Male pattern baldness. Hair on the scalp gets thinner and may fall out.

  • Darkening of the skin. Dark patches of skin can form in body creases like those on the neck, in the groin, and under the breasts.

  • Headaches. Hormone changes can trigger headaches in some women.

When to see a doctor

  • If you have concerns about your menstrual periods

  • If you're experiencing infertility.

  • If you have signs of excess androgen such as worsening hirsutism, acne and male-pattern baldness.


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