Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome

Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) is a very common hormonal condition that affects women of childbearing age. PCOS is thought to be present in 12-21% of women, many of whom do not receive a formal diagnosis of the condition. It is associated with many health problems such as irregular menstrual cycles, excessive facial and body hair, acne, obesity, reduced fertility and an increase risk of metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes.

The cause of PCOS is not straightforward. There are genetic and environmental factors that increase a woman’s risk of developing PCOS. PCOS is often associated with overweight and obesity, however, can also occur in lean individuals.

The mechanism behind PCOS is thought to be an imbalance in the male and female hormones along with insulin resistance. In regards to obesity, the hormones associated with obesity can promote PCOS, and the hormones associated with PCOS can promote obesity. It’s a complex cycle that can mean a woman with PCOS can find it very difficult to lose weight, and maintaining the weight can worsen the symptoms associated with PCOS.

Some symptoms you may have if you have PCOS are;
• Menstrual cycles lasting greater than 35 days between periods (oligomenorrhoea)
• Absence of periods (amenorrhoea)
• Subfertility or infertility
• Thick, coarse hair on the face or body
• Thick, dark patches of skin on the back of the neck, groin or underarms
• Overweight or obesity
• Thinning hair or baldness

To meet the diagnostic criteria for PCOS you need to meet at least two of the following three criteria;
• Oligomenorrhoea or amenorrhoea
• Increased androgen hormones: determined on blood testing or based on clinical examination
• Polycystic ovaries on ultrasound scan

If you have PCOS your GP or Medsurg doctor can help you to manage your condition. There are many treatment options and considerations when managing PCOS. The treatment is individualised to each person depending on their specific circumstances. If you are concerned that you may have PCOS we invite you to make an appointment today.