What is polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)? Learn more about this common hormonal disorder that affects five to 10 in 100 women.
25 April 2017| Last updated on 2 January 2018
PCOS is a condition which can affect a woman’s menstrual cycle, fertility, hormones and appearance. PCOS can also affect long-term health. Although PCOS is treatable it cannot be completely cured.
What is a polycystic ovary?
|Diagram showing normal & polycystic ovary||Ultrasound appearance of polycystic ovary|
What causes PCOS?
What are the symptoms of PCOS?
- irregular periods, infrequent periods or no periods at all
- difficulty becoming pregnant (reduced fertility)
- having more facial or body hair than is usual for you (hirsutism)
- loss of hair on your head (male pattern baldness)
- being overweight, the rapid increase in weight, difficulty losing weight
- oily skin, acne
How is PCOS diagnosed?
- Inability to release an egg from the ovaries on a regular (monthly) basis, i.e. irregular, infrequent periods or no periods.
- More facial or body hair than is usual for you and/or blood tests which show higher testosterone (male hormone) levels than normal.
- An ultrasound scan which shows polycystic ovaries.
- FSH & LH to be done on the 2nd or 3rd day of your period
- Sex hormones including testosterone
- Sex hormone binding globulin
- Blood glucose, insulin levels
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What treatments are available?
- Menstrual problems- oral contraceptive pills to regularise periods.
- Fertility problems- ovulation induction treatment, e.g. Clomiphene, letrozole, gonadotropins (injections), ovarian diathermy (ovarian drilling), assisted conception (e.g. IVF) as indicated by the severity of the problem.
- Drugs that improve the body’s sensitivity to insulin, such as metformin.
- Hirsutism- treatment for hirsutism may include medical and cosmetic treatments. Cosmetic treatments are shaving, waxing, bleaching, plucking, depilatory agents, electrolysis, laser.
What are the long-term health implications of PCOS?
What can I do to reduce long-term health risks?
Dr Arva Dhanaliwala is a specialist obstetrician and gynaecologist at Mediclinic Al Qusais.