Symptoms and Signs of Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS)

Medical Author:
Medically Reviewed on 10/13/2022

Doctor's Notes on Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS)

Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) is a condition in which the female ovaries contain multiple cysts. Cysts are fluid-filled structures within an organ or tissue. Elevated levels of male hormones (known as androgens) are responsible for the symptoms of PCOS. PCOS is the most common cause of infertility in women and occurs in 5-10% of women. 

In PCOS, there are a number of hormonal disturbances that lead to characteristic symptoms. Characteristic symptoms associated with PCOS include 

  • irregular or no menstrual periods, 
  • obesity
  • acne, and 
  • excess hair growth. 

Other associated symptoms and abnormalities may include:

Sometimes, women may not have any symptoms except for abnormalities in the menstrual cycle. While the exact cause is not understood, many experts believe the development of PCOS is related to abnormalities in insulin and the blood sugar control system.

What Is the Treatment for Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS)?

Treatment for polycystic ovarian syndrome may involve multiple interventions as needed, including:

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Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.