Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) - Symptoms

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What are the symptoms of polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS)?

PCOS's principal signs and symptoms 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.

Other PCOS signs and symptoms include:

  • obesity and weight gain,
  • elevated insulin levels and insulin resistance,
  • oily skin,
  • dandruff,
  • infertility,
  • skin discolorations,
  • high cholesterol levels,
  • elevated blood pressure, and
  • multiple, small cysts in the ovaries.

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 conceiving.

Return to Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS)

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Comment from: artlover24828, 35-44 Female (Patient) Published: September 27

I was diagnosed with an irregular period at the age of 17 and put on birth control for 20 years. Because my husband and I never wanted children, pregnancy was never an issue. At 37, my doctor took me of the birth control and that is when my problems started. Acne, oily hair (in patches), weight gain, multiple cysts, raise in my blood pressure, raise in my bad cholesterol and drop in good, drop in my Vitamin D level. I am constantly constipated. I have to take laxatives 1-2 times a week; I think the cysts are pushing on my intestines. My eating habits and exercise level hasn't changed. The OBGYN put me on progesterone for 1 week every 2 months to get my period going again. That week, I felt wonderful! I had energy, I lost 4 pounds and could "poop". Although, it did not start my period. Since then I have been fighting with my HMO and the referral process for 2 months to get back to the OBGYN.

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Comment from: RNMOM1961, 45-54 Female (Patient) Published: March 06

I have never been formally diagnosed but as a nurse with the symptoms described here I am sure I have polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS). As a young teen I always had late, heavy periods, 8 to 10 weeks apart. I tried birth control several times but had headaches and leg cramps. It took me 5 years to get pregnant with the help of an infertility specialist, a D&C and Clomid. I was on a diet and had lost 10 lbs when I conceived my daughter 26 years ago. I didn"t have acne and weight gain but am an 'apple' shape and have difficulty losing weight even with diet and exercise. Sixteen years ago I conceived in 8 to 10 weeks without the use of Clomid. Over the years I have had cysts on ultrasound they have found during my yearly gynecological exam. I have not had to take metformin or been diagnosed with insulin-resistance. My advice to every woman would be to seek the advice of an infertility specialist if you have POCS and are trying to conceive. I wish all of you the best of luck! As women we must support each other as usually you have friends that do not have PCOS and infertility so they have no idea how you feel.

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