Symptoms and Signs of Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS)

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Medically Reviewed on 5/3/2019

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. 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.

Elevated levels of male hormones (known as androgens) are responsible for the symptoms of PCOS.

Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) Causes

PCOS is the most common cause of infertility in women and occurs in 5-10% of women.

Other associated symptoms and abnormalities can 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 the abnormalities in insulin and the blood sugar control system.

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