Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)

Polycystic ovary syndrome is a hormonal disorder affecting women of reproductive age.

Overview

Polycystic ovary syndrome is a hormonal disorder affecting women of reproductive age. It causes menstrual irregularities and often also prevents the woman from falling pregnant. Typical symptoms include male-pattern hair growth/loss, acne and oily skin. Sufferers are also often overweight. Aiming for a normal weight is recommended for both prevention and improvement of the condition.

Symptoms

  • Menstrual irregularities
    • Missing or infrequent periods
    • Missing or infrequent ovulation
    • Difficulty getting pregnant
  • Signs of elevated male hormone levels
    • Male hair pattern
    • Acne, oily skin
    • Hair loss
  • Metabolic syndrome (syndrome X)

Causes and treatment

Cause

  • Definition: syndrome of many (poly) cysts in the ovary
    • Cyst = cavity/blister filled with fluid
  • Insulin metabolism disorder (too much insulin in the blood)
    • Shifts and imbalances in the release of hormones
    • Elevated male hormone levels
    • Follicles in ovaries don't mature properly

Further treatment by your doctor / in hospital

Possible tests
  • Blood test (measurement of hormone concentrations)
  • Ultrasound (sonography) of the ovaries
Possible therapies
  • Reduce overweight
  • Contraceptive pill with progesterone (to regulate the menstrual cycle)
  • Cortisone
  • Medication to lower blood sugar
  • Fertility treatment
  • If not planning to have children: suppression of male hormones

What can I do myself?

  • Aim for normal weight
  • If patient still wants children:
    • Reduce stress
    • Stop taking the pill
    • Unprotected intercourse at least 2x/week

Get a personal Preventive Care Recommendation now.

When to see a doctor?

  • Menstrual irregularities
    • Missing periods (always or new)
    • Irregular menstrual cycle
    • etc.
  • Male hair pattern
  • Desire for hormonal contraception
  • Difficulty getting pregnant
    • After one year (in spite of unprotected intercourse at least 2x/week)
    • In combination with: overweight, acne
  • Changes in urinary output (volume, frequency, colour)
  • Increased feelings of hunger and thirst

Synonyms

polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), PCOS, PCO syndrome, Stein-Leventhal syndrome, chronic hyperandrogenemic anovulation, CHA

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CSS offers no guarantee for the accuracy and completeness of the information. The information published is no substitute for professional advice from a doctor or pharmacist.

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