Signs and Symptoms of Polycystic Ovary Syndrome
By Tandy G. Olsen, MD
May 3, 2018
Updated Oct 25, 2023
5 min read
Do you feel like a hormonal teenager with mood swings and acne? Even worse, maybe you’re having trouble getting pregnant or experience irregular menstrual periods. Perhaps you’ve noticed a 5 o’clock shadow and thinning hair on your scalp. When your symptoms seem to pile up and you can’t seem to figure out what’s going on, you might have polycystic ovary syndrome, or PCOS.
When you have PCOS, you may be experiencing several seemingly random, unrelated symptoms. PCOS affects your hormones dramatically, so you may experience these symptoms:
Although you may experience all or many of the above symptoms, your doctor will likely diagnose PCOS when you have irregular periods, excess androgen (male hormone), and polycystic ovaries (as seen on ultrasound).
Doctors have yet to find the exact cause of PCOS. However, several factors may play a role in whether or not you develop PCOS. These include:
Polycystic ovary syndrome can result in a host of health issues and complications. Obesity and insulin resistance can also make your symptoms worse. PCOS complications include:
PCOS can cause many painful and difficult symptoms. Unfortunately, there’s no cure for PCOS. That being said, there are things you can do to ease the symptoms. You and your doctor should work together to find a treatment plan that will help you avoid many of the more severe complications of PCOS like diabetes and heart disease.
Even with no cure, you have the power to ease the symptoms of PCOS. There are certain lifestyle changes and treatments you can undergo to relieve your symptoms.
Incorporate good nutrition and regular physical activity. By losing weight you’ll help your body improve your hormone levels. Even losing 10% of your body weight can make a difference in your menstrual period and ovulation.
Remove excess hair and slow down the future growth of your hair. Excess hair can be embarrassing. But just because you have PCOS doesn’t mean you have to live with the extra hair. There are many facial hair removal techniques available, including creams, waxing, laser hair removal, and electrolysis. Keep in mind that because your hormones fluctuate with PCOS, you may have to remove hair more than once, even with treatments like laser hair removal. Laser hair removal and electrolysis must also be performed by a qualified professional.
Your doctor might prescribe medication to help manage the symptoms of PCOS. These medications might include:
Not sure when you should worry about your PCOS? If you’re experiencing the following symptoms, you should talk to your doctor as soon as possible:
Whether you have these symptoms or not, anytime you have questions or concerns about your PCOS is a good time to see your doctor. He or she can talk to you more about your symptoms and what you can do to improve them.