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Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome

Medically reviewed by Last updated on Dec 2, 2022.


Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS)

is a group of symptoms caused by a hormone disorder. Your body produces too many hormones and your ovaries do not work correctly. Your ovaries have fluid-filled sacs with an immature egg in each one. These are called follicles. The follicles grow bigger and make your ovaries look like they have cysts in them. PCOS increases your risk for endometrial cancer and infertility.

Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS)

Common signs and symptoms:

  • Irregular or absent monthly periods
  • Extreme hair growth on your face, chest, and back
  • Acne, thinning hair or baldness on your scalp
  • Weight gain, especially around your abdomen
  • High blood sugar levels or high blood pressure
  • Periods of extreme sadness and extreme happiness
  • Difficulty getting pregnant
  • Darkening of the skin around your neck creases, groin, and under your breasts
  • Skin tags in your armpits, or on our neck

Call your doctor or gynecologist if:

  • Your symptoms get worse.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.

Treatment for PCOS

may include any of the following:

  • Medicines may be given to control your blood sugar. You may need medicines to decrease male hormones, and increase female hormones. These medicines may also improve acne, baldness and hair growth you do not want. You may also need medicine to help you ovulate if you want to get pregnant.
  • Lifestyle changes:
    • Manage other health conditions. PCOS increases your risk for diabetes, heart disease, and high blood pressure. Your healthcare provider may send you to specialists that teach you how to manage these conditions.
    • Maintain a healthy weight. Ask your healthcare provider how much you should weigh. Ask him or her to help you create a weight loss plan if you are overweight. Weight loss can help reduce the symptoms of PCOS. You and your healthcare provider can set manageable weight loss goals.
    • Exercise as directed. Exercise can help keep your blood sugar level steady, lower your risk for heart disease, and help you lose weight. Exercise for at least 150 minutes every week. Spread this amount of exercise over at least 3 days in the week. Do not skip exercise more than 2 days in a row. Include muscle strengthening activities 2 to 3 days each week. Examples of exercise include walking or swimming. Do not sit for longer than 30 minutes at a time. Work with your healthcare provider to create an exercise plan that is right for you.
      Diverse Family Walking for Exercise
      Strength Training for Adults
    • Eat a variety of healthy foods. Healthy foods include fruits, vegetables, whole-grain breads, low-fat dairy products, beans, lean meats, and fish. A dietitian may help you plan meals to help manage your other health conditions.
      Healthy Foods

Follow up with your doctor or gynecologist as directed:

You may need to return for more tests or to check if the treatment is working. Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.

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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

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Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.