PCOS stands for polycystic ovary syndrome. It affects some people who have ovaries. It’s caused by a hormone imbalance where someone’s body makes too much androgen and too little estrogen. PCOS can cause issues with hair, periods and pregnancy. These usually start in puberty. There are lots of ways to treat PCOS and its symptoms!
How do I know if I have PCOS?
Most of the time, signs of PCOS start during puberty and get worse over time. Some people might have:
- Irregular or very heavy periods
- No periods
- Extra hair growth on their face and body
- Thinning hair on their scalp
- Weight gain
You don’t need all of these symptoms to have PCOS. Some people only have one or two and others have more. If you have some of these signs, talking to a doctor might help you avoid more serious conditions. If someone doesn’t treat PCOS, it sometimes leads to things like:
- Depression and anxiety
- Sleep apnea
- High blood pressure and heart disease
- Not being able to get pregnant
How do doctors diagnose it?
Doctors can check a few things to see if someone has PCOS:
- They ask about your periods and any symptoms you’ve noticed
- They might do a pelvic exam or a pelvic ultrasound to look for cysts on your ovaries
- They might do blood tests to rule out other conditions
- They might do a physical exam to look for things like extra body hair and high blood pressure
How can I treat PCOS?
If a doctor diagnoses you with PCOS, they’ll help you make a treatment plan. Doctors and nurses can make a plan for your specific symptoms, health issues, and life choices.
Some things that boost anyone’s health can help with PCOS! It can help to exercise regularly and eat a healthy and balanced diet.
A doctor might prescribe medications for PCOS. Birth control or antiandrogens could help you balance your hormones. You can also ask them about medications to help with other symptoms, like acne or high blood pressure.
Sometimes, PCOS can affect your mental health or self-esteem. If this happens, it might help to talk to people you trust, a therapist or a mental health professional.
Can I still get pregnant?
People with PCOS might have a harder time getting pregnant, but it’s possible! You can talk to your doctor if you’re having trouble getting pregnant. They might prescribe medications that can increase the chances for pregnancy.
What causes PCOS?
Right now, no one knows what causes PCOS. Some doctors think having too much insulin or inflammation might cause it. Others think it runs in families. That means if you have a family member who has PCOS, you could have a higher risk. But research hasn’t proven either of these yet.
More More about Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) – Ask Alice
Go Ask Alice explains some of the symptoms and treatments for PCOS, including for weight gain, irregular periods, and infertility.
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PCOS FAQ – Pathways to Parenting
A list of frequently asked questions around PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome), including around understanding the syndrome, treatments, and addressing infertility.