Having polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) can impact every part of your life — from your menstrual cycle to your ability to get pregnant. If you’re newly diagnosed with PCOS, it can be hard to know what symptoms and treatments are normal, and which ones require medical attention. Here’s everything you need to know about PCOS so you can start managing the condition today.
Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a hormonal disorder common among women of reproductive age. Women with PCOS may have infrequent or prolonged menstrual periods or excess male hormone (androgen) levels. The ovaries may develop numerous small collections of fluid (follicles) and fail to regularly release eggs.
There’s a lot of misinformation out there about PCOS, so it’s no wonder that patients are confused and have lots of questions. So, let’s set the record straight: yes, PCOS is a serious problem. Here’s why:
PCOS is a hormonal disorder that can cause irregular periods, excess hair growth, and ovulation problems. It also increases your risk for diabetes and heart disease. Left untreated, it can lead to fertility problems and pregnancy complications. Those who experience amenorrhea (no periods) over a prolonged period of time may be at increased risk for endometrial cancer.
But here’s the good news: with treatment, most women with PCOS can manage their symptoms and live healthy lives. So if you’re worried about PCOS, talk to your doctor.
There’s no one answer to that question because there are many possible causes of PCOS. However, the most likely cause is a hormonal imbalance. This can be due to ovulation problems, insulin resistance, or excess androgen levels. All of these things can lead to the development of small cysts on the ovaries — one of the main characteristics of PCOS.
Unfortunately, there’s no surefire way to prevent PCOS. However, making lifestyle changes can help. These include maintaining a healthy weight, getting regular exercise, and eating a nutritious diet. If you have a family history of the condition, be sure to have your blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood sugar checked annually by your general practitioner.
If you’re at a higher risk for developing PCOS, your doctor may recommend taking birth control pills or other medication to help lower your risk. There is no self-examination for PCOS.
PCOS is affects women of reproductive age and is characterized by high levels of androgens (male hormones) in the body. Common signs and symptoms of PCOS include:
While there is no cure for PCOS, treatment can help manage the symptoms and reduce the risk of complications — such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and high blood pressure. If you think you may have the condition, it’s important to talk to your doctor about your symptoms and medical history.
The shifts in hormones that come with PCOS can affect fertility and pregnancy. Because the condition presents differently in each person, there’s no one answer to whether you can get pregnant with PCOS naturally. It depends on the severity of your condition and whether you have any other health conditions that affect fertility. You might need fertility medications or IVF treatments.
If you’re trying to conceive, there are some things you can do to improve your chances. First, talk to your doctor about ways to manage your symptoms. You may need to take medication or make lifestyle changes. Additionally, try to maintain a healthy weight, eat a balanced diet, and exercise regularly. Once your doctor evaluates your case they will determine the probability of you getting pregnant naturally.
If you’re diagnosed with PCOS, your doctor will likely recommend a combination of lifestyle changes and medication. Treatments vary depending on your symptoms, but may include:
There isn’t a cure for PCOS, but doctor-prescribed medications and lifestyle changes are available to help manage the symptoms. Women who are going through menopause may continue to experience symptoms or complications, such as type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. It’s important to maintain regular check-ups with your doctor to keep these complications at bay.
Medically reviewed by Dr. Lisa Parsons, DO.
While we hope you’ve found this helpful, we can’t give you any medical advice without knowing your situation. Please reach out to a healthcare provider if you have specific questions or concerns. Nothing on this site is intended to diagnose or treat any illness, and no statement is intended or should be construed as medical or legal advice. Please utilize your best judgement and the support of your doctor when making any decisions about your health.