Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.
Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.
Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), also known by the name Stein-Leventhal syndrome, is a hormonal problem that causes women to have a variety of symptoms. It should be noted that most women with the condition have a number of small cysts in the ovaries. However, women may have cysts in the ovaries for a number of reasons, and it is the characteristic constellation of symptoms, rather than the presence of the cysts themselves, that is important in establishing the diagnosis of PCOS.
PCOS occurs in 5% to 10% of women and is the most common cause of
infertility in women. The symptoms of PCOS may begin in adolescence with
menstrual irregularities, or a woman may not know she has PCOS until later in life when symptoms and/or infertility occur. Women of all ethnicities may be affected.
What are the symptoms of polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS)?
The principal signs and symptoms of PCOS are related to menstrual disturbances and elevated levels of male hormones (androgens). Menstrual disturbances can include delay of
normal menstruation (primary amenorrhea), the presence of fewer than normal menstrual periods (oligomenorrhea), or the absence of menstruation for more than three months (secondary amenorrhea). Menstrual cycles may not be associated with ovulation (anovulatory cycles) and may result in heavy bleeding.
Symptoms related to elevated androgen levels include
acne, excess hair growth on the body (hirsutism), and male-pattern hair loss.
Any of the above
symptoms and signs may be absent in PCOS, with the exception of irregular or no
menstrual periods. All women with PCOS will have
irregular or no menstrual
periods. Women who have PCOS do not regularly ovulate; that is, they do not
release an egg every month. This is why they do not have regular periods and
typically have difficulty
Medical Author: Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD
Medical Editor: William C. Shiel, Jr., MD, FACP, FACR
A Viewer Asks: I have gained a serious amount of weight since the loss of my periods and my doctor believes I have
polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS). Do women who are treated for this condition lose the weight they gained due to PCOS?
Dr. Stöppler's Answer: It is still being debated whether the
weight gain is what caused the
polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) to emerge, or whether PCOS causes weight gain. It is known that obesity, sometimes even beginning early in life, is present in about half of women with PCOS.