Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a condition in which a woman has an imbalance of estrogen, progesterone and androgen. This may lead to menstrual cycle changes, cysts in the ovaries, trouble getting pregnant, skin, changes and, development of male-like characteristics .
Symptoms of PCOS include changes in your period (menstrual cycle). Some changes are:
- No period after you have had one or more normal ones during puberty (secondary amenorrhea)
- Irregular periods, that may come and go and may be very light to very heavy
PCOS can cause you to develop male-like characteristics. This is called virilization. Symptoms include:
- Body hair growing on the chest, belly, face, and around the nipples
- Decreased breast size
- Enlargement of the clitoris
- Thinning of the hair on the head, called male-pattern baldness
- Voice gets deeper
You may also have skin changes:
- Acne that gets worse
- Dark or thick skin markings and creases around the armpits, groin, neck, and breasts
Weight gain and obesity is common in women with PCOS. Losing weight can help treat the hormone changes and health conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure, or high cholesterol.
Losing just 5% of your body weight can help your hormone imbalance and may make it easier to get pregnant. For a 160-pound woman, that's just 8 pounds!
Your doctor may recommend birth control pills to make your periods more regular. Such medicines may also help reduce abnormal hair growth after you take them for a few months.
A diabetes medicine called glucophage (metformin) may also be recommended to:
- Make your periods regular
- Prevent type 2 diabetes
- Help you lose weight when you follow a healthy diet
Other medicines that may be prescribed to help make your periods regular and help you get pregnant are:
- LH-releasing hormone (LHRH) analogs
- Clomiphene citrate, which helps your ovaries grow and release eggs
Your doctor or nurse may also suggest other treatments for abnormal hair growth. Some are:
- Spironolactone or flutamide pills
- Eflornithine cream
Permanent hair removal options include:
- Laser hair removal - works best on very dark hair that covers large areas
Treatments can be expensive and multiple treatments may be needed.
A pelvic laparoscopy may be done to remove or alter an ovary to treat infertility. The effects are temporary.