Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) – Cleveland Clinic

OverviewWhat is polycystic ovarian syndrome?

Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) is a hormonal imbalance caused by the ovaries (the organ that produces and releases eggs) creating excess male hormones. If you have PCOS, your ovaries produce unusually high levels of hormones called androgens. This causes your reproductive hormones to become imbalanced. As a result, people with PCOS often have erratic menstrual cycles, missed periods and unpredictable ovulation. Small cysts may develop on your ovaries (fluid-filled sacs) due to lack of ovulation (anovulation). However, despite the name "polycystic," you do not need to have cysts on your ovaries to have PCOS.

PCOS is one of the most common causes of female infertility. It can also increase your risk for other health conditions. Your healthcare provider can treat PCOS based on your symptoms and if you have plans for having children.

A woman can get PCOS any time after puberty. Most people are diagnosed in their 20s or 30s when they are trying to get pregnant. You may have a higher chance of getting PCOS if you are overweight or have obesity, or if other people in your family have PCOS.

PCOS is very common up to 15% of women of reproductive age have it.

The exact cause of PCOS is unknown. There is evidence that genetics play a role. Several other factors also play a role in causing PCOS:

The most common symptoms of PCOS include:

Yes, its possible to have PCOS and not have any symptoms. Many people don't even realize they have the condition until they have trouble getting pregnant or are gaining weight for unknown reasons. Its also possible to have mild PCOS, where the symptoms are not severe enough for you to notice.

In most cases, your healthcare provider can diagnose PCOS after an examination. They may order blood tests or perform an ultrasound to help with the diagnosis.

Your healthcare provider will determine treatment based on your symptoms, medical history and other health conditions, and if you want to get pregnant. Treatments can include medications, lifestyle changes or a combination of both.

There is no proven way to prevent PCOS, but you can take small steps to reduce your symptoms. For example, eating nutritious foods, exercising regularly and managing your weight can help you avoid the effects of PCOS.

The hormone changes caused by menopause may make your PCOS go away, but not always. Sometimes the imbalance of hormones continues into menopause, meaning your imbalance does not change as you age. If your symptoms bother you or affect your quality of life, talk to your healthcare provider so they can recommend treating your symptoms.

PCOS has been shown to put you at a higher risk for several health conditions, including:

Talk to your healthcare provider to make sure you understand the risks of developing these conditions.

One of the best ways to cope with PCOS is to lose weight with healthy eating and regular exercise. Even a small amount of weight loss can affect hormone levels and help to regulate your menstrual cycle and ease your symptoms.

If excess hair growth or acne is hurting your confidence, cosmetic treatments or working with a dermatologist might be helpful.

Finally, if you are trying to conceive and have been diagnosed with PCOS, know that you are not alone. Your healthcare provider will work with you to help you get pregnant. Eating healthy and lowering your stress levels can go a long way in helping you manage PCOS.

There is still a lot of research being done to understand the causes of PCOS. However, there is evidence that shows PCOS has a genetic or hereditary component.

Yes, you can get pregnant if you have PCOS. PCOS can make it hard to conceive while also increasing your risk for certain pregnancy complications. Your healthcare provider will work with you to develop a treatment plan to help you ovulate. Your treatment plan could include medication or assisted reproductive technologies like IVF (In Vitro Fertilization).

Talk to your healthcare provider to make sure you understand your treatment plan and how you can increase your chances for a healthy and successful pregnancy.

Women with PCOS have a hormonal imbalance that disrupts the menstrual cycle, ovulation, and possibly, conception. These hormones are like an intricate web and the function of the female reproductive system relies heavily on its balance. The hormones that play a role in PCOS are:

PCOS and endometriosis are different conditions, but both are linked to ovarian cysts and infertility. Endometriosis is a condition where the lining of your uterus (endometrium) grows in other places like your ovaries, vagina or fallopian tubes. It typically causes pelvic pain or severe menstrual cramps. Women with PCOS have irregular periods, unpredictable ovulation and other physical side effects due to excess male hormones.

A note from Cleveland Clinic

PCOS is a common cause of infertility and can be linked to other diseases. Talk to your healthcare provider about your symptoms if you suspect you have PCOS. Lifestyle changes and medical treatments can help you manage the symptoms, lower your risk of other health conditions and get pregnant.

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Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) - Cleveland Clinic

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