POLYCYSTIC OVARY SYNDROME
Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a condition in which a woman has increased levels of male hormones (androgens).
Many problems occur as a result of this increase of hormones, including:
• Menstrual irregularities
• Skin problems such as acne and increased hair growth
• Increased number of small cysts in the ovaries
PCOS is linked to changes in hormone levels that make it harder for the ovaries to release fully-grown (mature) eggs. The reasons for these changes are unclear.
The hormones affected are:
• Estrogen and progesterone, the female hormones that help a woman’s ovaries release eggs
• Androgen, a male hormone that is found in small amounts in women
Normally, one or more eggs are released during a woman’s cycle. This is known as ovulation. In most cases, this release of eggs occurs about 2 weeks after the start of a menstrual period.
In PCOS, mature eggs are not released. Instead, they stay in the ovaries with a small amount of fluid (cyst) around them. There can be many of these. However, not all women with the condition will have ovaries with this appearance.
Women with PCOS have cycles where ovulation does not occur every month which may contribute to infertility The other symptoms of this disorder are due to the high levels of male hormones.
Most of the time, PCOS is diagnosed in women in their 20s or 30s. However, it may also affect teenage girls. The symptoms often begin when a girl’s periods start. Women with this disorder often have a mother or sister who has similar symptoms.