According to the Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome Association, more than 5 million women are affected by polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS). PCOS is also known as Stein-Leventhal syndrome and is the most common endocrine disorder.
PCOS can affect a woman’s menstrual cycle, ability to have children, hormones, heart, blood vessels and appearance. Also, PCOS is one of the most common causes of female infertility.
The cause of PCOS is unknown. However, many medical experts believe there are several factors that play a role in PCOS. One of those factors is genetics. Also, researchers believe insulin may be a factor. If you have a mom or sister with PCOS, you are more likely to develop PCOS.
PCOS symptoms vary woman to woman. Symptoms may include:
• No menstrual cycle or irregular cycle
• Irregular ovulation (with or without monthly menstrual cycle)
• Thinning scalp hair
• Weight gain or obesity
• Accumulation of unruptured follicles on the periphery of the ovaries (mislabeled as cysts called polycystic ovaries)
• Hirsutism (increased hair growth on the face, chest, stomach, back, thumbs or toes)
• Acne, oily skin, or dandruff
• Patches of skin on the neck, arms, breasts, or thighs that are thick and dark brown or black
• Skin tags
• Pelvic pain
• Anxiety or depression
• Sleep apnea
There is no cure for PCOS and there is no one medical test to diagnose PCOS. PCOS can be managed through diet, exercise and medical treatment. Unmanaged PCOS can lead to diabetes and certain forms of cancer. For example, 50 percent of women with PCOS will have diabetes before the age of 40. Women with PCOS have a four to seven higher chance for risk of heart attack and a risk of endometrial cancer.
If you have symptoms of PCOS, contact your doctor. Your doctor will run a series of tests. Those tests may include: a full medical history, physical and pelvic exam, blood tests and a vaginal sonogram/ultrasound.
For additional information about PCOS, please feel free to contact the additional sources below.
Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) Association
National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD)
(800) 370-2943 or http://www.nichd.nih.gov/womenshealth
American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists (AACE)
(904) 353-7878 or http://www.aace.com
American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists
(202) 638-5577 or http://www.acog.org
American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM)
(205) 978-5000 or http://www.asrm.org
Center for Applied Reproductive Science (CARS)
(423) 461-8880 or http://www.ivf-et.com
InterNational Council on Infertility Information Dissemination, Inc. (INCIID)
(703) 379-9178 or http://www.inciid.org
Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome Association, Inc. (PCOSA)
The Hormone Foundation
(800) 467-6663 or http://www.hormone.org