There is no cure for PCOS, so treating it is about managing your symptoms. Each symptom of PCOS is a condition in its own right, with its own course of treatment. Read on for more information.
What is PCOS / Polycystic Ovary Syndrome?
Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a condition in which a woman’s hormones are out of balance. This in turn affects the way the ovaries work. In the UK, it is thought that around 7 women in every 100 have PCOS.
It’s important to note that, although the name of the condition suggests otherwise, if you have PCOS you don’t actually have any cysts on your ovaries.
The three main characteristics of PCOS are:
- Irregular periods
- Polycystic ovaries (enlarged ovaries containing fluid-filled sacs around the eggs)
- High levels of the “male” hormones called androgens
Women with PCOS are more likely to develop other health problems in later life, such as high cholesterol, high blood pressure, depression and type 2 diabetes.
How can you treat PCOS?
There is no one specific PCOS treatment to cure this condition. Instead, it’s necessary to treat the individual symptoms.
Medicines that are frequently used to help PCOS include:
- Oral contraceptives such as Yasmin, Marvelon and Dianette / Co-Cyprindiol to control the amount of testosterone produced by the body and also help with acne and excess hair
- Vaniqa cream to reduce excess hair growth
- Topical acne treatments containing benzoyl peroxide to help reduce acne
- A medicine called Metformin can help to control your insulin and testosterone levels, which may improve your fertility.
- Clomid, which can help with fertility as it causes the body to ovulate regularly.
Losing weight can help to reduce several of the symptoms of polycystic ovaries. The easiest way of doing this is through exercise and managing your diet.
If you suffer from excessive hair, there are various hair removal and bleaching techniques that might make you feel more comfortable.
What are the symptoms of PCOS?
Polycystic ovary syndrome symptoms often come out in the late teens and early twenties.
PCOS symptoms can include:
- Irregular periods
- Difficulty becoming pregnant due to infrequent ovulation
- Weight gain
- Excessive hair growth (hirsutism) on the face, chest, back or buttocks
- Thinning hair on the head
- Oily skin and acne
- Fatigue and sleep problems
- Mood changes
What causes PCOS?
It isn’t known exactly what causes PCOS, but this condition is known to run in families. PCOS is related to unbalanced hormone levels in the body, including high levels of testosterone and insulin.
Many women with PCOS are resistant to the levels of insulin their body produces, so the body compensates by producing even more.
Frequently Asked Questions
What does PCOS stand for?
PCOS stands for polycystic ovary syndrome.
How common is PCOS?
It is thought that around 7 in 100 women in the UK have PCOS.
How many ovaries does a woman have?
Each woman has two ovaries, one on either side of the uterus.
Where are ovaries in the body?
The ovaries are in the lower abdomen. There are two ovaries in the female body, one each side of the uterus.