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What is Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome?

Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (Stein-Leventhal syndrome) commonly known as PCOS, is the most common hormonal disorder observed among reproductive age females.

Polycystic ovarian syndrome (or polycystic ovary syndrome) is a disorder in which the ovaries of the woman are generally enlarged. Polycystic means ‘many cysts’; here the ovaries have many cysts or follicles, which fail to mature and produce eggs.

PCOS is characterised by the presence of cluster of small, pearl-sized fluid-filled cysts in the ovaries. These cysts contain immature eggs.

In this condition there is an imbalance in the female hormones and presence of slightly elevated levels of androgen (male hormone) which causes irregular or delayed menstrual cycles, excessive facial hair growth or unwanted growth of body hair, acne, infertility, etc.

Women with PCOS experience several signs and symptoms which vary from woman to woman; and as there is no single test which can confirm the diagnosis of PCOS, this disorder is termed as the ‘Silent Killer”.

Timely diagnosis and suitable treatment can prevent the risk towards the development of numerous complications.



The exact causative factor of PCOS is unknown though, the below mentioned factors may play a role.

1. Obesity.

2. Hereditary.

3. Low-grade inflammation.

4. Hormonal imbalance – Excessive production of the male sex hormone, androgen may affect the release of eggs during the ovulation stage.

5. Insulin Resistance – Insulin resistance leads to excess insulin in the body. Excess insulin leads to increase in androgen production, which may inhibit the ability of the ovaries to ovulate.



Symptoms of PCOS generally commence soon after menarche (beginning of menstruation). Symptoms and intensity of symptoms vary from female to female. Some of the symptoms experienced are as follows

1. Pelvic pain.

2. Multiple cysts in the ovaries.

3. Thinning of hair on the scalp.

4. Reduced libido (sexual desire).

5. Irregular or absent menstrual cycles.

6. Mood changes, depression or anxiety.

7. Excess or unnecessary body or facial hair growth

8. Skin problems, including skin tags and skin darkening.

9. Infertility (inability to conceive after one year of frequent unprotected intercourse).

10. Sleep apnea (sleep disorder where there are abnormal pauses of breathing during sleep).



There is no particular diagnostic test to confirm the diagnosis of Polycystic ovarian syndrome. All the signs and symptoms are considered and then accordingly all the other possible disorders are ruled out. Certain tests performed are

1. Blood sugar.

2. Thyroid profile.

3. Androgen levels.

4. Menstrual History.

5. Pelvic examination.

6. Pelvic Laparoscopy.

7. Physical examination.

8. Fasting cholesterol and triglycerides.



Early diagnosis and treatment of PCOS decreases the risk of developing complications. Some complications experienced by women suffering with PCOS are

1. Diabetes.

2. Infertility.

3. Sleep apnea.

4. Uterine Cancer.

5. Heart attack.

6. Breast cancer.

7. Depression & anxiety.

8. Premature delivery.

9. Elevated cholesterol & lipids.

10. Pregnancy induced hypertension.

11. Hypertension (increased blood pressure).

12. Miscarriage (spontaneous loss of a pregnancy before the 20th week).

13. Gestational diabetes (type of diabetes which develops, or is diagnosed for the first time during pregnancy).



Treatment of Polycystic ovarian syndrome involves

1. Acne treatment.

2. Weight loss treatment.

3. Treatment for hair loss.

4. Adapting a healthy lifestyle.

5. Performing regular exercises.

6. Infertility is treated by inducing ovulation.

7. Consuming a healthy and a well balanced diet.

8. Prescription of birth control pills, in females who do not want to get pregnant.

9. Prescription of insulin sensitizing; androgen blocking and topical anti- hair growth medications.



PCOS can be prevented by, to a larger extent, by

1. Avoiding smoking.

2. Adapting a healthy lifestyle.

3. Maintaining healthy weight.

4. Performing regular exercises.

5. Consuming a healthy and a well balanced diet.


Can one conceive with PCOS?

Polycystic ovarian syndrome does not stop a female from conceiving a child, though it may be difficult. Untreated PCOS shall definitely create an impact on a woman’s ability to become pregnant. Infertility rate arising due to polycystic ovaries is very high.

Women suffering from PCOS generally require medical aid to enhance their chances of pregnancy. Though, the success rate is dependent on details of each individual case. Once, the PCOS is under control, achieving pregnancy is not difficult. Chances of conceiving post PCOS treatment are high.

Chances of conceiving in women with polycystic ovarian syndrome can be enhanced through…

1. Healthy lifestyle.

2. Inducing ovulation.

3. Weight loss treatment.

4. Performing regular exercises.

5. Prescription of insulin-sensitizing medications.

6. Consumption of a healthy and a well-balanced diet.

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