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
Other associated symptoms and abnormalities may include:
- elevated insulin levels, insulin resistance,
- high cholesterol levels,
- oily skin,
- dandruff, and
- high blood pressure.
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:
- Birth control pills or progestin therapy to regulate menstrual cycles
- Medications such as clomiphene, metformin, or other hormonal medications to aid ovulation if pregnancy is desired
- Acne treatments, such as medications or topical skin products
- Weight loss to improve overall symptoms
- Medications that can slow facial hair growth, including spironolactone and eflornithine (Vaniqa)
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Does PCOS Go Away?Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) does not go away. There is no cure for PCOS, and the goal of treatment is to manage symptoms. Many people will need a combination of treatments, such as hormonal birth control, anti-androgen medications, metformin (Glucophage), eflornithine HCl cream to slow hair growth in unwanted places, prescription skin treatments or oral antibiotics for acne, infertility medications (clomiphene, letrozole, gonadotropin therapy), and others.
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What Are the First Signs of PCOS?Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) symptoms include missed periods, infertility, weight gain and acne, which are all caused by hormone imbalance in women.
What Is the Main Cause of PCOS?PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome) is a common cause of ovarian cysts and infertility. Its actual cause is unknown, but certain risk factors increase the likelihood of getting PCOS, including having a mother or sister with PCOS, being obese, having an irregular menstrual cycle, and certain reproductive system abnormalities.
Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.