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March 15, 2019 | Family Medicine
Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a common hormonal disorder among women of reproductive age, causing abnormal periods or increased male hormone levels. Typically, symptoms begin shortly after puberty, but PCOS often goes undiagnosed because its symptoms are attributed to other conditions.
Contrary to popular belief, not every woman with PCOS will develop cysts on her ovaries. However, most people with PCOS will have some of these symptoms:
The cause of PCOS is unknown, but experts suggest genetics, abnormal androgen hormone levels, low-grade inflammation and excess insulin may play a role.
Currently, there is no medical test to definitively diagnose PCOS. So, to make a diagnosis, your doctor will probably ask you about your medical history, order blood tests and perform a pelvic exam. You may be asked to undergo an ultrasound to check your ovaries.
Your treatment plan will need to take into consideration your health concerns and goals and it usually involves managing bothersome symptoms. Many women with PCOS, for example, make lifestyle changes to improve their condition, such as losing weight and eating healthy. Exercise can help with PCOS symptoms by lowering blood sugar levels and keeping your weight under control. Your doctor might also recommend birth control pills or progestin therapy to regulate your menstrual cycle.
Because PCOS can affect ovulation, your doctor may prescribe medication that will help you ovulate. Other medications can help with hirsutism and reduce androgen production. Electrolysis can also help you manage excess hair production.
“Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS).” Mayo Clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/pcos/symptoms-causes/syc-20353439
“PCOS Symptoms.” PCOS Awareness Association.
Maria Oneida, MD
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This information is not intended to replace the advice of a medical professional. You should always consult your doctor before making decisions about your health.