Overview

What is Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS)?

Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) is a reproductive disorder characterised by multiple cystic growths on the ovaries. PCOS develops when the ovaries are stimulated to produce excessive amounts of male hormones, particularly testosterone, either through the release of excessive luteinising hormone (LH) by the pituitary gland or through high levels of insulin in the blood.

Symptoms

What are the signs of Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS)?

The signs and symptoms of PCOS include:

Irregular menstrual cycles

Irregular menstrual cycles

Infertility, generally resulting from a lack of ovulation

Infertility, generally resulting from a lack of ovulation

Elevated blood levels of testosterone, androstenedione, insulin and/or DHEAS

Elevated blood levels of testosterone, androstenedione, insulin and/or DHEAS

Central obesity

Central obesity

Male-pattern baldness

Male-pattern baldness

Acne, oily skin, seborrhoea

Acne, oily skin, seborrhoea

Sleep apnoea

Sleep apnoea

Multiple cysts on the ovaries

Multiple cysts on the ovaries

Enlarged ovaries

Enlarged ovaries

Chronic pelvic pain

Chronic pelvic pain

Causes

What are the causes of Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS)?

The exact cause of PCOS is unknown but the following factors play an important role:

Genetics

Genetics

Family history

Family history

Hormone imbalance - insulin and testosterone

Hormone imbalance - insulin and testosterone

Overweight/obesity

Overweight/obesity

Diagnosis

How do I know if I have Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS)?

To diagnose PCOS, your doctor is likely to ask you about your medical and family history, perform a physical exam or request the following tests:

Female & male hormone profile (blood)

Female & male hormone profile (blood)

Fasting insulin

Fasting insulin

Ultrasound

Ultrasound

Find a Practitioner

See a list of practitioners who are specialised in treating polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS).