Polycystic ovary syndrome is a condition causing a woman's hormones to get out of balance. PCOS can cause problems with periods and also makes it difficult to get pregnant. Most women who have PCOS grow small cysts on their ovaries. The cysts are not harmful but will lead to hormone imbalances. PCOS can also cause unwanted changes in a patient's appearance, and over time it can lead to serious health problems, such as diabetes and heart disease. Early diagnosis and treatment can help control the symptoms and prevent long-term problems.
The cause of PCOS is not fully understood, but genetics may be a factor. PCOS seems to run in families, so the chances of having it is higher if other women in the family have it or have irregular periods or diabetes. PCOS can be passed down from either the mother's or father's side.
Symptoms of PCOS can be mild at first, but if left untreated these symptoms can worsen or new symptoms can develop. The most common symptoms are:
PCOS must first be diagnosed before treatment. To diagnose PCOS the doctor may ask questions about past health, symptoms, and menstrual cycles. The doctor may run a physical exam to check for signs of PCOS, which can include high blood pressure. The doctor will also check height and weight to see if there is a healthy body mass index. Lab tests might be run to check on blood sugar, insulin, and other hormone levels. These hormone tests can help rule out thyroid or other gland problems that could cause similar symptoms. The doctor may also have a pelvic ultrasound to look for cysts on the ovaries.