Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), also known as polycystic ovarian syndrome, is a common health problem caused by an imbalance of reproductive hormones, or excess production of androgen, the male sex hormone which interferes with ovulation.
Ovulation is the release of a mature egg, which occurs in every month. With PCOS, the egg may not develop as it should or it may not be released during ovulation as it should be.

What you should know about PCOS is that it is mostly overlooked disease, because many women have PCOS but don’t know it. In one study, up to 70 percent of women with PCOS hadn’t been diagnosed.

PCOS can cause missed or irregular menstrual periods. Irregular periods can lead to:
-Infertility (inability to get pregnant). In fact, PCOS is one of the most common causes of infertility in women.
-Development of cysts (small fluid-filled sacs) in the ovaries.


The exact cause of PCOS isn’t known. Factors that might play a role include:
Insulin resistance. Insulin is a hormone that the pancreas makes. It allows cells to use sugar, your body’s primary energy supply. If cells become resistant to the action of insulin, then blood sugar levels can go up. This can cause your body to make more insulin to try to bring down the blood sugar level.
Too much insulin: This might cause your body to make too much of the male hormone androgen, which interferes with ovulation.
One sign of insulin resistance is dark, velvety patches of skin on the lower part of the neck, armpits, groin or under the breasts. A bigger appetite and weight gain may be other signs.

Hereditary: Research suggests that certain genes might be linked to PCOS. Having a family history of PCOS may play a role in development of the disease.If your mum or family member has PCOS,then there is a probability that you will have PCOS too.

Excess androgen: With PCOS, the ovaries may produce high levels of androgen. Having too much androgen interferes with ovulation. This means that eggs don’t develop on a regular basis and aren’t released from the follicles where they develop. Excess androgen also can result in hirsutism and acne. Excess androgen can also be seen in adrenal hyperplasia.

Inflammation: Women with PCOS often have increased levels of inflammation in their body. Being overweight can also contribute to inflammation. Studies have linked excess inflammation to higher androgen levels.


Irregular menstrual cycle,Women with PCOS may miss periods or have fewer periods (fewer than eight in a year). Or, their periods may come every 21 days or more often. Some women with PCOS stop having menstrual periods. This is the main cause of infertility.

-Too much hair on the face, chin, or parts of the body where men usually have hair. This is called “hirsutism.” Hirsutism affects up to 70% of women with PCOS
Acne on the face, chest, and upper back
-Thinning hair or hair loss on the scalp; male-pattern baldness
-Weight gain or difficulty losing weight
-Darkening of skin, particularly along neck, in the groin, and underneath breasts
-Skin tags, which are small excess flaps of skin in the armpit.


Complications of PCOS can include: Infertility, gestational diabetes or pregnancy-induced high blood pressure,  Miscarriage or premature birth                      -Nonalcoholic steatohepatitis — a severe liver inflammation caused by fat buildup in the liver-Metabolic syndrome — a cluster of conditions including high blood pressure, high blood sugar, and unhealthy cholesterol or triglyceride levels that significantly increase your risk of heart and blood vessel (cardiovascular) disease. Type2 diabetes or prediabetes

– Sleep apnea

Depression, anxiety and eating disorders

-Cancer of the uterine lining (endometrial cancer)

Obesity commonly occurs with PCOS and can worsen complications of the disorder.


Doctors typically diagnose PCOS in women who have at least two of the three symptoms below.

1.high androgen levels
2.irregular menstrual cycles
3.cysts in the ovaries
-A pelvic examinatiom should be conducted to look for any problems with your ovaries or other parts of your reproductive tract.
-Blood tests to check for higher-than-normal levels of male hormones.
– Blood tests to check your cholesterol, insulin, and triglyceride levels to evaluate your risk for related conditions.
-An ultrasound examination: To look for abnormal follicles and other problems with your ovaries and uterus.


PCOS treatment focuses on managing the things that are concerning you. This could include infertility, hirsutism, acne or obesity. Specific treatment might involve lifestyle changes or medication.

Lifestyle changes
Your health care provider may recommend weight loss through a low-calorie diet combined with moderate exercise activities. Even a modest reduction in your weight — for example, losing 5% of your body weight — might improve your condition. Losing weight may increase the effectiveness of medications your provider recommends for PCOS, and it can help with infertility. Your health care provider and a registered dietitian can work with you to determine the best weight-loss plan.

To regulate your periods, your health care provider might recommend:
Combination birth control pills. Pills that contain both estrogen and progestin decrease androgen production and regulate estrogen. Regulating your hormones can lower your risk of endometrial cancer and correct irregular bleeding, excess hair growth and acne.
Progestin therapy. Taking progestin for 10 to 14 days every 1 to 2 months can regulate your periods and protect against endometrial cancer. This progestin therapy doesn’t improve androgen levels and won’t prevent pregnancy.
To help you ovulate so that you can become pregnant, your health care provider might recommend:
Clomiphene. This oral anti-estrogen medication is taken during the first part of your menstrual cycle.
Letrozole (Femara). This breast cancer treatment can work to stimulate the ovaries.
Gonadotropins. These hormone medications are given by injection.
To reduce excessive hair growth or improve acne, your health care provider might recommend:

  • Birth control pills. These pills decrease androgen production that can cause excessive hair growth and acne.
    Spironolactone (Aldactone). This medication blocks the effects of androgen on the skin, including excessive hair growth and acne. Spironolactone can cause birth defects, so effective birth control is needed while taking this medication. This medication isn’t recommended if you’re pregnant or planning to become pregnant.
    Eflornithine (Vaniqa). This cream can slow facial hair growth.
    Hair removal. Electrolysis and laser hair removal are two options for removing hair. Electrolysis uses a tiny needle inserted into each hair follicle. The needle sends out a pulse of electric current. The current damages and then destroys the follicle. Laser hair removal is a medical procedure that uses a concentrated beam of light to remove unwanted hair. You might need multiple treatments of electrolysis or laser hair removal. Shaving, plucking or using creams that dissolve unwanted hair may be other options. But these are temporary, and hair may thicken when it grows back.
    Acne treatments. Medications, including pills and topical creams or gels, may help improve acne. Talk to your health care provider about options.
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By Mbam Serena

Medical Practitioner, Content Creator, Digital Marketer

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