PCOS: Polycystic ovary syndrome is a health problem affecting 1 in 10 women in the world. Women with PCOS have a hormonal imbalance and metabolism problems affecting their overall health and appearance. PCOS is also a common but treatable cause of infertility among women.


Some of the symptoms of PCOS include:
• Irregular menstrual cycle: Women with PCOS may miss periods or have fewer periods (fewer than eight in a year). Some women with PCOS stop having menstrual periods.
• Hirsutism: Too much hair on the face, chin, or parts of the body is called “hirsutism.” Hirsutism affects up to 70 percent of women with PCOS.
• Acne on the face, chest, and upper back
• Thinning hair or hair loss on the scalp; male-pattern baldness
• Weight gain or difficulty losing weight
• Darkening of skin, particularly along neck creases, in the groin, and underneath breasts


The exact cause of PCOS is not known. Most studies reveal that several factors, including genetics, play a major role.
• High levels of androgens: High androgen levels in women is responsible for late or no ovulation during each menstrual cycle, and symptomatic cause extra hair growth and acne.
• High levels of insulin: Many women with PCOS have insulin resistance, especially those who are overweight or obese. Over time, insulin resistance can lead to type 2 diabetes.


There is no cure for PCOS, but symptoms of PCOS can be managed.
• Weight loss: Losing weight may help to lower your blood glucose levels. Even a 10 percent loss in body weight (for example, a 150-pound woman losing 15 pounds) can help to regularise the menstrual cycle and improve your chances of pregnancy.
• Slowing hair growth and hair removal: Facial hair removal creams, laser hair
removal, or electrolysis are some of the commonly used methods to remove excess hair.
• Prescription medicines: The doctor may prescribe hormonal birth control, such as the pill, patch, shot, vaginal ring, or hormonal intrauterine device (IUD). Medicines block the effect of androgens or lower insulin and androgen levels.
• In vitro fertilization (IVF): Compared with medicine alone, IVF results in higher pregnancy rates.
• Surgery: The cortex of the ovaries is thickened in women with PCOS preventing spontaneous ovulation. Ovarian drilling is performed to restore ovulation. It usually lasts for 6 to 8 months.

For further information on PCOS, call the OWH Helpline at 800-994-9662 contact
the following organizations:
Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD), NIH, HHS
American Society for Reproductive Medicine: www.asrm.org
PCOS Foundation: www.pcosfoundation.org

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