Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS): Symptoms & Signs

Medically Reviewed on 9/10/2019

Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) is a hormonal problem in women typically characterized by a specific set of symptoms along with numerous small cysts in the ovaries. PCOS occurs in 5%-10% of women. PCOS is the most common cause of infertility in women.

Signs and symptoms of polycystic ovarian syndrome are related to high levels of male hormones (androgens). Symptoms and signs include acne, abnormal menstruation including heavy or irregular menstrual periods, oily skin, dandruff, skin discolorations, the absence of menstruation (amenorrhea), excess hair growth on the body, male-pattern hair loss, overweight, and obesity. Other associated symptoms and signs can include elevated insulin levels and insulin resistance.

Causes of polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS)

The cause of polycystic ovarian syndrome is unclear.

Other polycystic ovarian syndrome symptoms and signs

  • Absence of Menstruation (Amenorrhea)
  • Acne
  • Dandruff
  • Elevated Insulin Levels
  • Excess Hair Growth on the Body
  • Heavy or Irregular Menstrual Periods
  • Insulin Resistance
  • Male-Pattern Hair Loss
  • Obesity
  • Oily Skin
  • Overweight
  • Skin Discolorations

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Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.