Skip links

Polycystic Ovaries

Polycystic ovaries, like endometriosis affects around 10% of women during their fertile years. It is caused by hormonal irregularities – however these irregularities can be caused by any number of issues. Polycystic ovaries do create problematic periods, as they interfere with the normal hormonal stimulus involved in releasing eggs from the ovaries. This then causes infrequent periods, or simply a prolonged menstrual cycle.

Symptoms of polycystic ovaries

Certainly, if you are only having less than nine period cycles in a year, this can be a tell-tale sign. Other symptoms can include bloating, pressure and pain, periods that go for over five weeks, acne and excess hair growth.

Given the length of the menstrual cycle, or the irregular nature of your period, polycystic ovaries often tend to make it hard to predict when you are ovulating, which can affect your chances of conceiving. There is a strong genetic linkage to polycystic ovaries. As such, Guy will take a long look at your medical history and may need to determine if there is a family history of irregular periods, or confirmed cases of polycystic ovaries in your family. Or whether it is carried down from your father’s genetic line.

In some cases, polycystic ovaries can be difficult to diagnose. 

There are a number of factors which can contribute to PCOS including an excess of insulin which can point to excess sugar levels and may trigger the release of androgen (a hormone mostly found in men) which can have an impact on fertility. An increase in weight can elevate insulin levels, further exacerbating PCOS.

Guy Will Take You Through Your Options. These Will Include:

– Pelvic examination to determine if there are any easily noticeable irregularities in your uterus or ovaries which might point to further clues

– Ultrasound to consider the shape and condition of your ovaries and the lining of your uterus

– Blood tests to determine hormone levels, insulin levels, cholesterol, glucose levels and androgens.

This Is A Condition Which Responds Well To Lifestyle Changes.

Some simple changes to your diet and your exercise routine can have big impacts on your hormonal levels, which help address the regularity of egg production. As little as 5% weight loss has an effect.

In some cases, medication can be a required and significant help to trigger the ovaries, and the regular development and release of your eggs.

If you are not wishing to conceive, then it is important to ensure you are having a minimum of four periods per year to help protect the health of your uterine lining.


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
  • Acne
  • 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.