Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS): Symptoms, causes, and complications – Insider

Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) is a common condition where the ovaries produce excess male sex hormones called androgens, which causes hormonal imbalances that can lead to a range of symptoms.

As many as one in ten women experience PCOS, which can cause symptoms like missed periods and weight gain. PCOS symptoms can start any time after puberty and over time, it can lead to serious complications like diabetes or heart disease .

As far as the symptoms go, not all women experience them the same. As a result, PCOS can go undiagnosed in as many as 75% of people with the condition, which is why it's important for women to understand the signs of the condition.

PCOS can cause several telltale symptoms, including:

To see if you have PCOS, your doctor may also perform a physical exam and take blood tests to check your levels of androgens.

People who are diagnosed with PCOS, typically have at least two of the following:

"Because PCOS is associated with irregular ovulation or no ovulation, women may have difficulties conceiving," says Jessica Chan, MD, a professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Cedars-Sinai

When your menstrual cycles are irregular, it can be harder to determine when you're ovulating and the best time to have sex. However, your doctor can prescribe medication to regulate your ovulation and most people with PCOS are able to get pregnant.

Experts don't know the exact cause of PCOS, "but it's likely a mixture of hormonal, genetic, and environmental factors," says Greves. Some of the main factors include:

The effects of PCOS on your body can lead to serious complications and can put you at greater risk for several chronic diseases including:

PCOS is a hormonal condition that causes a variety of symptoms, including irregular periods, abnormal hair growth, and weight gain. And over time, it can put you at greater risk for developing conditions like diabetes, heart disease, and sleep apnea.

"The good news is that a lot of research has been done to help us navigate around this diagnosis and improve quality-of-life," Greves says. If you're experiencing any symptoms of PCOS, "getting an appointment with a doctor who is familiar with the syndrome is crucial," says Chan.

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Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS): Symptoms, causes, and complications - Insider

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