Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a hormone problem in women. With PCOS, the ovaries make follicles but they don’t mature and release an egg each month. The follicles can turn into fluid-filled sacs calledcysts.
Ovary and Fallopian Tube
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The cause is not known. Insulin resistance seems to play a role. It creates high levels of insulin. This causes the ovaries to make too much of a male hormone called androgen. This can result in male features. It can stop ovulation from happening. It can lead to large ovaries with many cysts.
Factors that may raise your chance of PCOS:
- People in your family with PCOS
Some women may not have symptoms. If you do, they may be:
Inability to become pregnant
- Irregular or no menstrual periods
- Undesired hair growth
- Hair loss from the scalp
The doctor will ask about your symptoms and health history. A physical exam will be done.
You may have:
- An ultrasound to view your ovaries
- Blood tests to measure glucose, cholesterol, and hormone levels
- Urine tests to check for pregnancy.
The goal of treatment is to target insulin resistance. The treatment you have depends on whether you want to become pregnant. You may need:
- Medicine to:
- Managing abnormal hair growth
- Treat acne
- Improve insulin resistance
- Bring on ovulation if you want to become pregnant
- Regulate menstruation
- Lifestyle changes:
Weight loss if you are overweight
- Healthy eating
PCOS can't be prevented.
The Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada (SOGC)
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Polycystic ovary syndrome. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at:
http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T116286/Polycystic-ovary-syndrome. Updated June 18, 2018. Accessed July 25, 2018.
Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). Endocrine Society Hormone Health Network website. Available at:
http://www.hormone.org/diseases-and-conditions/womens-health/polycystic-ovary-syndrome. Accessed July 25, 2018.
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Last reviewed June 2018 by
EBSCO Medical Review Board Kathleen A. Barry, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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