What is PCOS?

PCOS is a condition that affects your periods, fertility, appearance and hormonal balance.

Women with PCOS are more likely to have irregular prolonged periods, occasionally absent period, difficulty in getting pregnant, overweight and difficulty in losing weight, excessive hair on face, arms, back and excessive acne with oily skin.

Ultrasound may show poly-cystic ovaries, however this does not  always indicate diagnosis of the condition.  Also, women having just poly-cystic ovary on ultrasound and no other symptoms does not necessary have PCOS.

What causes PCOS?

The cause of PCOS is not yet known but it often runs in families.  If any of your relatives (mother, aunts, sisters) are affected with PCOS, your risk of developing PCOS may be increased.

The symptoms are usually related to abnormal hormone levels ie elevated androgens and insulin resistance.

How is PCOS diagnosed

Medical history, examination, pelvic ultrasound and blood tests are needed to make definitive diagnosis.

Management

Your doctor will discuss management with you based on your symptoms and the appropriate treatment option.

Irregular, absent periods is usually managed with hormonal medications and occasionally metformin can help.  Excess hair can be managed by waxing, laser hair removal or by reducing the amount of androgens in the body.  Hormonal contraception or anti-androgen drugs e.g. cyproterone acetate can help with this.  There are stronger medication available which your doctor will discuss if simpler options do not work.

Not all patients will need treatment to fall pregnant though in some cases it may take longer to fall pregnant as you do not ovulate every cycle and ovulation may be delayed depending on your cycle length.

If infertility is a concern then it is important to seek Medical help as usual.  Simple measures like weight loss and ovulation induction tablets can help. Occasionally IVF is needed to achieve pregnancy