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Polycystic Ovary Syndrome – symptoms, causes and complications

Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) is a common endocrine system disorder which is affecting women at their reproductive ages. Women who suffer from PCOS may have enlarged ovaries which contain small collections of fluid (they are known as follicles) and they are located in each ovary as seen during an ultrasound exam. Women who have Polycystic Ovary Syndrome can have obesity, acne, excess hair growth and infrequent or prolonged menstrual periods. In adolescents, infrequent or absent menstruation can increase the suspicion for Polycystic Ovary Syndrome. [1] The exact cause for PCOS is not known. It is very important this condition to be diagnosed in its early stages and the treatment along with weight loss can help you to reduce the risk of long – term complications such as heart disease and diabetes type 2.

Symptoms of Polycystic Ovary Syndrome

The signs and symptoms of Polycystic Ovary Syndrome often begin soon after a woman first begins to have periods (this is also known as menarche). In some cases Polycystic Ovary Syndrome can develop later during the reproductive years. For example, this can come in response to substantial weight gain. [2] PCOS has many signs. Those are things that you or your doctor measure. Also it has a lot of symptoms and those are things which you feel or notice. Every woman who suffers from PCOS can be affected a little differently. To be diagnosed with PCOS, your doctor needs to look for at least two of the following conditions:

  • Polycystic ovaries: Polycystic ovaries become enlarged and they have much small fluid – filled sacs which are surrounding the eggs.
  • Excess androgen: When there is elevated levels of male hormones which are known as androgens, then this can result in physical signs such as male – pattern baldness (this condition is known as androgenic alopecia), adult acne or severe adolescent acne and excess facial and body hair (this condition is known as hirsutism). [3]
  • Irregular periods: This is the most common characteristic of PCOS. Examples of this condition include prolonged periods that may be scant or heavy, failure to menstruate for 4 months or longer, fewer than eight menstrual cycles a year and menstrual intervals longer than 35 days. [1]

If you have signs of androgen excess such as acne and male – pattern hair growth, if you are experiencing infertility or you have concerns about your menstrual periods, then you should visit your doctor as soon as possible.

Causes: Doctors do not know what causes Polycystic Ovary Syndrome but here are some factors which can play a role in it:

  • Heredity: If your mother or sister suffers from Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, then you might have increased chances of having this condition. There are many scientists which are trying to find the possibility of certain genes which are linked to Polycystic Ovary Syndrome. [4]
  • Low – grade inflammation: The white cells of your body are producing substance which is fighting infection in a response called inflammation. There are some studies in which is shown that women who suffer from PCOS have low – grade inflammation and this is the type of low – grade inflammation which is stimulating polycystic ovaries to produce androgens. [5]
  • Excess insulin: This is a hormone which is produces in your pancreas and it allows cells to use glucose (sugar) which is your body’s primary supply of energy. If you have insulin resistance, then the ability of your body to use insulin effectively is impaired and your pancreas has to secrete more insulin to make glucose available for your cells. Excess insulin can also affect the ovaries because it is increasing the androgen production which can interfere with the ovaries ability to ovulate. [6]

Polycystic Ovary Syndrome

Complications due to polycystic ovary syndrome

  • Depression and anxiety [7]
  • Sleep apnea
  • Type 2 diabetes [8]
  • Abnormal uterine bleeding
  • High blood pressure
  • Infertility [9]
  • Cholesterol and lipid abnormalities such as elevated triglycerides or low high – density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, the good cholesterol [10]

When you have Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, then it can cause you to have some of the mentioned conditions, especially if obesity is also a factor.


[1] Harris HR, Titus LJ, Cramer DW, Terry KL. Long and irregular menstrual cycles, polycystic ovary syndrome, and ovarian cancer risk in a population-based case-control study. International Journal of Cancer. 2017;140(2):285–91.

[2] Barber TM, Hanson P, Weickert MO, Franks S. Obesity and polycystic ovary syndrome: Implications for pathogenesis and novel management strategies. Clinical Medicine Insights: Reproductive Health. 2019;13:1179558119874042.

[3] Paris VR, Bertoldo MJ. The mechanism of androgen actions in PCOS etiology. Medical Sciences. 2019;7(9):89.

[4] Prapas N, Karkanaki A, Prapas I, et al. Genetics of polycystic ovary syndrome. Hippokratia. 2009;13(4):216–23.

[5] Rudnicka E, Kunicki M, Suchta K, et al. Inflammatory markers in women with polycystic ovary syndrome. BioMed Research International. 2020.

[6] Marshall JC, Dunaif A. All women with PCOS should be treated for insulin resistance. Fertility and Sterility. 2012;97(1):18–22.

[7] Sadeega S, Mustafa T, Latif S. Polycystic ovarian syndrome –Related depression in adolescent girls: A review. Journal of Pharmacy and Bioallied Sciences. 2018;10(2):55–9.

[8] Wang ET, Calderon-Margalit R, Cedars MI, et al. Polycystic ovary syndrome and risk for long-term diabetes and dyslipidemia. Obstetrics & Gynecology. 2011;117(1):6–13.

[9] Dennett CC, Simon J. The role of polycystic ovary syndrome in reproductive and metabolic health: Overview and approaches for treatment. Diabetes Spectrum. 2015;28(2):116–20.

[10] Kim JJ, Choi YM. Dyslipidemia in women with polycystic ovary syndrome. Obstetrics & Gynecology Science .2013 May; 56(3): 137–142.

Dr. Emil Sarsath (aka) Vijila, a licensed naturopathic doctor (BSMS) who always ensures his patients receive compassionate, and individualized care. He has extensive experience in primary care, digestive health, mental health, nervous system disorder and more.Area of Expertise – Naturopathic Medicine, Whole Foods-based Nutrition, Siddha, Panchakarma.She is always available through [email protected]


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