Polycystic Ovary Syndrome

Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is one of the most common female endocrine disorders. PCOS is a complex, heterogeneous disorder of uncertain etiology, but there is strong evidence that it can to a large degree be classified as a genetic disease.

PCOS produces symptoms in approximately 5% to 10% of women of reproductive age (12–45 years old).  It is thought to be one of the leading causes of female subfertility and the most frequent endocrine problem in women of reproductive age.

The principal features are anovulation, resulting in irregular menstruation, amenorrhea, ovulation-related infertility, and polycystic ovaries; excessive amounts or effects ofandrogenic (masculinizing) hormones, resulting in acne and hirsutism; and insulin resistance, often associated with obesity, Type 2 diabetes, and high cholesterol levels. The symptoms and severity of the syndrome vary greatly among affected women.


Laparoscopic image from WomensHealthIndia

Common symptoms of PCOS include:

  • Menstrual disorders: PCOS mostly produces oligomenorrhea (few menstrual periods) or amenorrhea (no menstrual periods)
  • Infertility: This generally results directly from chronic anovulation (lack of ovulation).
  • High levels of masculinizing hormones: The most common signs are acne (darkened skin patches) and hirsutism (male pattern of hair growth), but it may produce hypermenorrhea (very frequent menstrual periods) or other symptoms.
  • Metabolic syndrome: This appears as a tendency towards central obesity and other symptoms associated with insulin resistance. Serum insulin, insulin resistance and homocysteine levels are higher in women with PCOS. (adapted from wikipedia)
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