Did you know PCOS is a health condition that impacts one out of every ten women of reproductive age?

Shreya Kamath


What is PCOS?

Polycystic ovary syndrome (abbreviation - PCOS) is a condition in which the ovaries create an excessive amount of androgens (male sex hormones) normally present in women but in tiny amounts. This basically happens due to a hormonal imbalance in the female reproductive system.


Graphics- Mansi Singh

A mature egg is discharged from the ovary during ovulation. This occurs in order for male sperm to fertilize it. Following your period, if the egg is not fertilized, it is sent out of the body. PCOS is a common yet often undetected condition. Sometimes people who have it don’t even realize till long that they have PCOS.

How is PCOS Caused?

The most exact cause of PCOS is still unknown. But these could be some possible causes as suggested by doctors.

What is PCOS?

Graphics- Mansi Singh


PCOS is a condition that can typically run-in families. PCOS affects up to 70% of the daughters of women who have it. Research reveals that specific genes are related to PCOS.

An Excessive Amount of Insulin

Insulin is a hormone generated by the pancreas that helps cells to consume sugar, which is your body's main source of energy. Your blood sugar levels may rise, and your body may create more insulin if your cells grow resistant to the effects of insulin. Excess insulin may boost testosterone production, making ovulation problematic.

Insulin resistance is a condition that causes increased glucose levels and the risk of pre-diabetes and type two diabetes for as many as 30% to 40% of women with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS). Insulin resistance may be at the heart of PCOS, both producing and worsening symptoms. Insulin resistance must be managed by lifestyle changes or medicine to avoid complications; thus, it's something that every female with PCOS must be tested for.


When your body's natural immune system, made up of white blood cells and other elements, responds to foreign material in an attempt to protect you from a potential threat, inflammation develops. Unfortunately, your body's inflammatory response can occasionally be triggered inadvertently, causing your immune system to attack your own tissues and cells.

Inflammation levels in the bodies of women with PCOS are frequently elevated. Inflammation worsens by being overweight. Excessive inflammation associates with greater levels of androgen in the body. These could be some reasons for the cause of PCOS in women.

Common Symptoms of PCOS

Common Symptoms of PCOS

Graphics- Mansi Singh

To be on the safer side, it's advisable to consult a doctor rather than making assumptions on our own by reading online. If you have PCOS, the symptoms commonly appear in your late teens or early twenties. It’s not like every woman with PCOS will have all of the symptoms, and each one can vary in intensity. Some women may have only menstrual issues, or they can't conceive or have both.

From around the time of their first menstruation, some women begin to experience symptoms. Others don't find out they have PCOS until they've gained weight or struggled to conceive.

Excessive Hair Growth

Scientifically known as Hirsutism is a condition in which a woman's facial or body hair grows excessively. Hirsutism is characterized by coarse, black hair on the face, chest, belly, back, upper arms, and legs. Research suggests that up to at least seven out of ten women with PCOS have excessive hair growth.

Irregularities in the Menstrual Cycle

An 'irregular' menstrual cycle can be described as one of the following:

  • Having menstrual cycles of eight or fewer days each year.
  • Menstrual cycles that occur in less than 21 days.

For teenagers, the term "irregular periods" means:

  • Menstrual cycles are longer than 90 days between 1 and 3 years after the first period.
  • Cycles that are lesser than 21 days or more than 45 days
  • Even by the age of 15, periods have not begun.

Ovulation may stop completely (anovulation) or occur very irregularly as menstrual cycles prolong. During their menstrual cycle, some women either report more or milder bleeding. Periods help to keep the uterine lining from thickening excessively (womb). In the womb, abnormal cells can form if you don't have regular periods. The uterine lining would not shed every month due to the absence of ovulation. PCOS causes several women to have fewer than eight periods per year or none.

Having Trouble in Getting Pregnant

You can find it difficult to conceive if you either have some symptoms or have PCOS. This is due to the presence of large quantities of male hormones, which restrict an egg from being released (ovulation). PCOS can raise your chances of experiencing some pregnancy issues, such as pregnancy-induced high blood pressure, miscarriage, premature birth, etc.

Acne and Baldness Related Issues

Androgens hold a crucial influence on acne formation. They induce the skin's glands to create an excessive amount of sebum, an oily material. Acne is an effect of the accumulation of sebum and dead skin cells in hair follicles, trapping germs underneath the skin. Inflammation and pimple production occurs as a result of this. Androgens are responsible for initiating puberty and promoting hair development in the pubic areas and underarms. They also serve other essential purposes. Additional androgens can also cause hair thinning on your head, such as around the front of your scalp.

Weight Gain

PCOS tends to make it harder for the body to use the hormone insulin, which is responsible for converting carbohydrates and carbs from food into energy. Insulin resistance is a disorder that causes insulin and sugar (glucose) to accumulate up in the bloodstream. Male hormones stimulate weight gain, and it usually occurs in the abdomen.

PCOS Risks

Graphics- Mansi Singh

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Medication & Treatment for PCOS

PCOS is diagnosed in women who usually have at the minimum of two or three symptoms –

  • High amounts of androgen
  • Menstruation periods that are irregular
  • Ovarian cysts

Your doctor should also inquire about acne, hair development on your face and body, and weight gain.

For women who don't want to get pregnant, birth control is the most popular PCOS treatment. These birth control techniques may help reduce your risk of endometrial cancer, which affects the uterus' inner lining. Taking simply a hormone called progestin could help you regain control of your periods. It doesn't stop pregnancies or treat acne or undesirable hair growth. However, it has the potential to reduce the risk of uterine cancer.

Many of your symptoms will improve if you shed just a little weight if you're overweight. Reducing 5 to 10% of your body weight can improve insulin sensitivity, leading to menstrual cycles that are more regular and even help control severe acne and excessive hair growth.

PCOS Treatment

Graphics- Mansi Singh

One way to handle your symptoms could be by eating the right foods and excluding particular ingredients. A healthy diet can aid in the regulation of your hormones and menstrual cycle. Inflammation and insulin resistance can be increased by eating processed and preserved foods. Including supplements of iron, zinc, vitamin B, etc depending on your symptoms, can help with PCOS.

Therefore, it's essential to pay heed to the symptoms faced by your body so that the proper treatment and diagnosis can be made at the right time to avoid any further complications.

Q: What is PCOS?

A: PCOS, or Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, is a hormonal disorder where the ovaries produce excessive amounts of androgens, disrupting the menstrual cycle and potentially causing cysts to form on the ovaries.

Q: What causes PCOS?

A: The exact cause of PCOS is unknown, but it's believed to involve a combination of genetic predisposition, insulin resistance, and inflammation.

Q: What are the common symptoms of PCOS?

A: Common symptoms include irregular menstrual cycles, excessive hair growth (hirsutism), difficulties in conceiving, acne, baldness-related issues, and weight gain.

Q: How is PCOS diagnosed?

A: PCOS is typically diagnosed based on symptoms such as irregular periods, high androgen levels, and the presence of ovarian cysts on ultrasound. Additional symptoms and medical history are also considered during diagnosis.

Q: What are the treatment options for PCOS?

A: Treatment may include lifestyle changes such as diet and exercise to manage weight and improve insulin sensitivity. Medications like birth control pills or anti-androgen drugs may also be prescribed to regulate hormones and alleviate symptoms.

Q: Why is early detection and treatment important for PCOS?

A: Early detection and treatment can help prevent complications such as infertility, diabetes, and heart disease, and improve overall quality of life for individuals with PCOS.

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