Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) affects approximately 10% of fertile women.
The exact cause of PCOS is unknown, but it often runs in families.
Many women with PCOS are resistant to the action of insulin in their body and produce higher levels of insulin to overcome this.
This contributes to the increased production and activity of hormones like testosterone. This can result in excessive hair growth – a symptom your gynaecologist will look for.
Being overweight or obese also increases the amount of insulin your body produces.
There’s no cure for PCOS, but the symptoms can be treated. Speak to a GP if you think you may have the condition.
If you have PCOS and you’re overweight, losing weight and eating a healthy, balanced diet can make some symptoms better.
Medicines are also available to treat symptoms such as excessive hair growth, irregular periods and fertility problems.
If fertility medicines are not effective, a simple surgical procedure called laparoscopic ovarian drilling (LOD) may be recommended.
With treatment, most women with PCOS are able to get pregnant.
No one can tell. It is not known what exactly causes polycystic ovaries, but a trained gynaecologist will look for three tell-tale signs:
- If you have irregular periods – which is a sign your ovaries are not ovulating (releasing eggs) in a regular fashion
- Difficulty getting pregnant
- Weight gain
- Hair loss
- Excessive facial or body hair – which can be caused by excess male hormones which are, themselves, caused by the insulin caused by the stress to your ovaries
- Enlarged ovaries
Your gynaecologist will look for at least two symptoms before diagnosing PCOS. They will also want to confirm any diagnosis with an ultrasound.