Is PCOS a Serious Problem?

Medically Reviewed on 1/13/2022
Is PCOS a Serious Problem?
Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) is not a life-threatening or dangerous condition; however, it can lead to various serious diseases such as the following.

Polycystic ovarian syndrome or PCOS is a common health condition affecting women of childbearing age. It is not a life-threatening or dangerous condition.

It can, however, lead to various serious diseases, such as:

Most of these complications can be avoided with appropriate lifestyle modifications and treatment.

If a person has PCOS, they must consult their doctor because time management is crucial to help them lead a healthy and productive life.

What is PCOS?

Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) is a type of hormonal disorder affecting females due to an overproduction of male hormones or androgens (such as testosterone). The condition affects about 1 in 10 women in the reproductive age group.

The sex hormones in females are called estrogen and progesterone. Women have small quantities of male hormones or androgens in their bodies.

  • In PCOS, the affected woman does not make enough female hormones needed to cause the development and release of the egg or ovum from the ovary (ovulation). 
  • When ovulation does not occur, various tiny fluid-filled sacs or cysts develop in the ovaries that produce androgens.
  • The excess androgen formation disturbs the menstrual cycle besides causing other problems seen in women with PCOS.

Besides the excess androgen production, the levels of another hormone, called insulin are raised in the body of a female with PCOS. The excess insulin in return stimulates more production of androgens. The high androgens further impair ovulation leading to infertility and irregular menstruation.

PCOS is the most common cause of infertility in females, affecting about five million women in the United States.

The high insulin levels indicate a condition called insulin resistance. It means that the body tissues do not respond adequately to the insulin hormone. This may lead to high blood glucose levels and eventually diabetes mellitus.

One of the signs of insulin resistance is the presence of dark, leathery lines on the skin, called acanthosis nigricans. They are mainly seen in the armpits, behind the neck and groin.

Women with PCOS have a state of chronic inflammation in the body, which can contribute to various chronic diseases, including:

Can you get pregnant with PCOS?

Yes, one can get pregnant even if they have polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS).

Many people wrongly think that females with this condition cannot conceive. PCOS can affect different females differently. Many women may even ovulate intermittently that can make them pregnant if unprotected intercourse happened during that cycle.

For those women with PCOS who wish to get pregnant, a consultation with their doctor can greatly help. The doctor may recommend lifestyle changes and medications that can help them ovulate and thus conceive. The doctor may even advise assisted reproductive techniques or ART if medicines are not successful.

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Medically Reviewed on 1/13/2022
References
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Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. PCOS (Polycystic Ovary Syndrome) and Diabetes. https://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/basics/pcos.html

UCLA Health. Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS). https://www.uclahealth.org/obgyn/pcos