PCOS or Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome is a relatively common condition, affecting up to 25% of women during their childbearing years. The name refers to the appearance of small cysts/follicles on the ovaries. The exact cause is largely unknown but is believed to have a genetic component, being commonly found in mothers, daughters and sisters.
The common presentation of PCOS includes
- Polycystic ovaries (multiple ovarian cysts/follicles)
- Menstrual irregularities or amenorrhoea
- Anovulation or irregular ovulation
- Heavy menstrual bleeding
- High androgen levels (male hormone) low ovarian estrogen
- Excess hair around the face, nipples, navel and pubic area
- Weight gain/Obesity
- Insulin resistance/poor blood sugar regulation
- Reduced fertility or infertility
- Increased risk of miscarriage
However not all women diagnosed with PCOS will present with all of the above symptoms. You may even have polycystic ovaries (multiple cysts on your ovaries) yet not have any symptoms of PCOS.
PCOS can have a severe or mild presentation. Some women diagnosed with PCOS may be asymptomatic and unaware they even have the condition, whereas others will suffer all the above listed symptoms. The severity of symptoms does not necessarily correlate with the number of cysts on the ovaries, in fact there appears to be no diagnostic way of telling who will have severe symptoms and who will not.