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
    • Healthy diet
    • Regular exercise
  • 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

Exclusion of liability

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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