Disorder of the endocrine system that affects women of reproductive age. It is usually characterized by enlarged ovaries with follicles (cyst-like structures that contain fluid), irregular, absent or long menstrual cycles and obesity. The normal metabolism of androgens and estrogen (hormones) is altered and so is the production of testosterone.



Exact cause is unknown

Hormonal imbalance

Genetics (likely to develop the disorder if the mother/sister has it)

Excessive insulin production (this increases the production of male hormones which in turn interferes with ovulation)

Low-grade inflammation

Symptoms and signs

Irregular periods – intervals that are longer than 35 days, less than 7-8 menstrual cycles per year, absent menstruation for four months or more

Excess male hormones

Excessive facial and body hair


Sleep apnea

Polycystic ovaries

Obesity and metabolic syndrome

Type II diabetes

High blood pressure


Androgenic alopecia (baldness)






Medical history, weight fluctuations and symptoms are preliminarily discussed


Physical examination – to check body mass index, height, weight, and blood pressure


Pelvic examination – to check for abnormalities of the reproductive organs


Blood tests – to verify hormone levels, glucose and triglyceride levels, glucose tolerance test


Ultrasounds – to examine ovary appearance and uterus lining


The first treatment recommendation is to lose weight through diet and exercise – this can improve the condition and general well-being


Medication is given to regulate menstrual cycles: this is done through combination birth control pills (estrogen and progestin), skin patches or vaginal rings that contain these hormones, or through progesterone therapy (only administering progesterone orally 10 to 14 days a month; no contraceptive effect)


In cases of insulin resistance, metformin can be prescribed (medication for type 2 diabetes)


Medication to stimulate ovulation (for procreative purposes): clomiphene (anti-estrogen medication) and metformin, gonadotropins (follicle-stimulating hormone and luteinizing hormone medication)


    Women diagnosed with PCOS can never have children


    All the women with PCOS are obese


    Weight loss is almost impossible if you have PCOS


    The only problem with PCOS is that it causes infertility


    The disorder only affects women over 30 years old



Around 5 million women in the US suffer from PCOS


US prevalence among reproductive-age women: 4-12%


Prevalence in Europe: 6.5-8%


Around 40% of the women with PCOS have insulin resistance

Did you know?


Women with polycystic ovary syndrome may have an increased risk of developing cardiovascular and cerebrovascular diseases.


It is important to keep track of menstrual cycles, weight and dietary changes in order to see how symptoms improve or worsen after diagnosis.


Losing weight can improve chances of conceiving.


PCOS Awareness Month: September


Famous women with PCOS: Victoria Beckham, Jools Oliver (Mrs Jamie Oliver, mother of 4 children), actress Rebecca Atkinson