Women's Health

Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)


  • Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a hormonal disorder common among women of reproductive age, causing them ovarian problems.
  • While the exact cause of PCOS remains unknown, it is believed to be linked to hereditary and environmental factors.
  • Irregular menstrual cycle, increased body hair and acne are the key symptoms associated with PCOS.
  • Early diagnosis is of the essence; it allows management of the symptoms, and reduces the risk of developing enduring health issues.
  • Diet, exercise and medications can help control the PCOS symptoms.

A hormonal disorder common among women of reproductive age. Usually beginning during puberty, PCOS triggers the onset of several symptoms associated with the hormonal disorder, which causes ovarian problems, and lead to underdevelopment of the egg, or hinder its release during ovulation.

Other Names:
Stein Leventhal Syndrome

Normally, the ovaries secrete two sets of hormones (chemical substances through which the physiological functions are controlled): estrogens (female hormones), and androgens (male hormones). In women with PCOS, these hormones become unbalanced: they usually have a higher level or androgen, or a lower level of estrogen, than normal. As a result, follicles (fluid-filled cysts) develop on the ovaries. While the exact cause of PCOS remains unknown, it is believed to be linked to hereditary and environmental factors.

Risk factors:
  • Obesity
  • Family history
  • Insulin resistance
  • Increased level of androgen

  • Menstrual cycle abnormalities
  • Acne 
  • Oily skin
  • Increased body hair (on the face, chest and thighs)
  • Dark spots and thick skin (especially in the neck and armpits)
  • Hair loss
  • Weight gain 
  • Infertility​

When to see a doctor?
On the onset of the above-mentioned symptoms.

  • Diabetes
  • Heart diseases 
  • High blood pressure (hypertension)
  • Endometrial hyperplasia (thickening of the lining of the uterus)

  • Clinical tests.
  • Laboratory tests: tests meant to detect any excess of male hormones.
  • Other tests, including: pelvic ultrasound test, to measure the size of ovaries, and detect any cysts that may have developed.

There is no constant treatment for PCOS. However, its symptoms can be controlled through various medications. Varying from a patient to another, the PCOS treatment options may include:
  • Lifestyle changes: by losing weight, and maintaining moderate exercise;
  • Medications, including:
  1. Menstrual cycle regulation medicines (e.g. contraceptives or progestin);
  2. Production and stimulation of eggs; 
  3. Medications to control growth of undesirable body hair, and head hair loss;

  • Surgery: through a simple surgical procedure (laparoscopy), to treat the infertility problems that may arise from PCOS.​
While there is no specific way to prevent PCOS, it is believed that a healthy diet and maintaining healthy weight can be of great help for patients with PCOS, to avoid developing complications (e.g. diabetes, and cardiovascular diseases).

Tips for PCOS patients:
  • Maintain a healthy weigh.
  • Limit the intake of high-carb, low-fat foods. 
  • Exercise regularly.
  • Consult with your doctor regularly.
  • Make sure to take the medicines as prescribed.
  • Stop smoking.

  • What can PCOS patients do to lower the risk of developing health problems during pregnancy?
PCOS patients, generally, are susceptible to obesity. But they are also at higher risk of pregnancy diabetes, and post-pregnancy hypertension. Here is what a PCOS patient needs to do:
  1. Maintain a healthy weight before pregnancy; 
  2. Maintain a normal blood sugar level before pregnancy;
  3. Limit the intake of caffeine;
  4. Take folic acid (and consult with your doctor to determine the appropriate dosage).
  • Are there various types of PCOS?
PCOS is always the same, but the symptoms may vary from patient to patient; sometimes PCOS is associated with menstrual disorders, sometimes not.

Myths & Truths:
  • PCOS patients cannot get pregnant.
Truth: If properly treated, most women with PCOS can get pregnant.

Last Update : 28 January 2020 01:37 PM
Reading times :