Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a set of symptoms caused by a problem with a woman’s hormones. It affects the ovaries. These are the small organs that store a woman’s eggs. But it can also affect the rest of the body. PCOS is a very common condition in women of childbearing age.
Ovulation happens when a mature egg is released from an ovary. This happens so it can be fertilized by a male sperm. If the egg is not fertilized, it is sent out of the body during your period.
In some cases, a woman doesn’t make enough of the hormones needed to ovulate. When ovulation doesn’t happen, the ovaries can develop many small fluid-filled cysts. These cysts make hormones called androgens. Androgens are a type of hormone found in abundance in men, but women normally have them in smaller amounts. Women with PCOS often have high levels of androgens. This can cause more problems with a woman’s menstrual cycle. And it can cause many of the symptoms of PCOS.
Symptoms of PCOS may include:
- Irregular ovulation, or absence of ovulation (anovulation).
- Weight gain and difficulty managing weight
- Low energy and fatigue.
- Insomnia and difficulty sleeping.
- Pelvic pain.
- Excessively heavy menstrual bleeding.
- Excess hair growth (hirsutism) on the face and body
- Acne and oily skin
- Thinning or hair loss
- Weight gain or obesity.
The symptoms vary from woman to woman. Some women have a few mild symptoms, while others are affected more severely by a wider range of symptoms. Polycystic ovaries do not cause pain.
Treatments plans for PCOS can focus on reversing the symptoms of the disorder or restoring ovulation to help the patient become pregnant. A physician may also recommend weight loss or exercise to manage symptoms.