Polycystic Ovary Syndrome

PCOS means Polycystic Ovary Syndrome or many ovarian cysts. PCOS can cause health problems such as Type 2 diabetes, insulin resistance, obesity and high cholesterol levels. The cause is unknown and the condition is thought to be genetic (runs in the family).

PCOS is diagnosed in women in their 20s and 30s. But it can also be diagnosed in teenaged girls as young as 11 and in women ages 40-55.

PCOS causes hormonal imbalance in women that can lead to irregular, prolonged or absent menstruation (Amenorrhea). The cysts in the ovaries are tiny sacs containing fluid and immature follicles that failed to rupture or release the mature egg for fertilization (ovulation).

The immature eggs stay inside the ovaries making it harder for women to become pregnant. Anovulation is when ovaries don’t release eggs at all. This is the main cause of infertility in women. PCOS has no cure, but the condition can be reversed with treatment, and lifestyle and diet changes.

Hormonal Imbalance

PCOS triggers the ovaries and adrenal glands to release too much male androgen hormones (Testosterone which converts to DHT). DHT is the main cause of hair loss in women. Too much Testosterone and DHT in females can also cause severe acne, male pattern baldness, deep voice, increased sex drive, aggression, and unwanted facial and body hair (hirsutism).

Polycystic Ovary Syndrome

PCOS also triggers the adrenal glands to release too much of a hormone called DHEA-sulfate, which can also cause excessive facial hair in women (see picture above) as well as other male characteristics. Women with PCOS are also at a greater risk for ovarian cancer, endometrial cancer (lining of the uterus) and breast cancers.

Insulin Resistance

Some women with PCOS have too much circulating insulin in their blood because their cells have trouble utilizing insulin in the cells. Insulin Resistance means there is too much insulin circulating in the blood which causes blood sugar to be elevated. Insulin Resistance is mainly associated with obese women.

Signs and Symptoms of PCOS

  • Infertility (not ovulating)
  • Infrequent, absent, and/or irregular menstrual periods
  • Hirsutism (increased facial and body hair)
  • Cysts on the ovaries
  • Acne, oily skin, or dandruff
  • Weight gain or obesity, especially around the waist
  • Male-pattern baldness or thinning hair
  • Dark brown or black patches of skin on face, neck and armpits
  • Skin tags in the armpits or neck area
  • Abdominal pain
  • Anxiety or depression
  • Sleep apnea (breathing stops for short periods of time while asleep)
  • Diagnosis & Treatment

    Diagnosis is made after a review of the patient’s medical history, blood tests, and an ultrasound to confirm the presence of cysts inside the ovaries. Blood tests include thyroid function tests, a lipid profile to determine the amount of cholesterol in the blood, and fasting glucose (before you eat) to check your blood sugar.

    PCOS is treated with lifestyle changes, diet changes and exercise. But when those methods fail, medications may be prescribed by your doctor.

    Patients are encouraged to limit carbohydrates and sugars in their diets, and to eat more fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Exercise helps to lose weight and regulate hormones and blood sugar.


    Your doctor may prescribe birth control pills to regulate your periods. Diabetes medication such as metformin (Glucophage) is prescribed to treat Insulin Resistance and to stabilize your blood sugar. Fertility medications help trigger ovulation.

    Surgery is usually the last resort when women don’t respond to fertility medications.

    Medications such as Spironolactone (Aldactone) and Progesterone are prescribed to block male androgens to treat acne and stop hair loss.

    Other treatments include creams to get rid of unwanted facial and body hair, and laser hair removal to keep new facial and body hair from growing.

    This has been your Medical Minute.

    More Info On the Web

    Polycystic Ovary Syndrome – Womenshealth.gov

    Polycystic Ovary Syndrome – WebMD

    PCOS – Hormone Health Network


    Any medical information published on this blog is for your general information only and is not intended as a substitute for informed medical advice. You should not take any action before consulting with your personal physician or a health care provider. Sandrarose.com and its affiliates cannot be held liable for any damages incurred by following advice found on this blog.

    Photos are used for illustrative purposes only