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Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS)

Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome is a common disorder among women caused by an imbalance of reproductive hormones. Women with PCOS experience irregular menstrual cycles, excess hair growth, acne and infertility. You may not have periods at all or you may have periods that last many days.
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Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome is a hormonal imbalance that occurs when your ovaries produce an excessive amount of androgen hormones. Androgens are male reproductive hormones that are naturally found in women at small levels. With PCOS the egg may not develop as it should due to the excess hormones. It is one of the most common causes of infertility in women.

Common Symptoms of PCOS

It is possible to have PCOS and not have any symptoms. Some women don’t even realize they have the condition. Having trouble getting pregnant or gaining weight for unknown reasons may be signs of PCOS. It’s possible to have mild PCOS, with symptoms that aren’t severe enough for you to notice. Common symptoms include:


  • Missed periods, irregular periods, or very light periods
  • Ovaries that are large or have many cysts
  • Excess body hair, including the chest, stomach, and back (hirsutism)
  • Weight gain, especially around the belly (abdomen)
  • Acne or oily skin
  • Male-pattern baldness or thinning hair
  • Infertility 
  • Small pieces of excess skin on the neck or armpits (skin tags)
  • Dark or thick skin patches on the back of the neck, in the armpits, and under the breasts

Treatments for PCOS

Treatment for PCOS depends on your age, how severe your symptoms are, and your overall health. Your healthcare provider will determine treatment based on your symptoms, medical history and other health conditions. The type of treatment may also depend on whether you want to become pregnant in the future. Treatments can include medications, lifestyle changes or a combination of both.

Birth control pills - Progestin


Diabetes medication - Metformin


Medications to block androgens


Fertility medication - Clomiphene


Hair removal medications

Additional Resources

Learn more from the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists