6 Common Symptoms of PCOS
Feb 4, 2022
Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a hormonal disorder common among women of reproductive age. It is a highly prevalent endocrine-metabolic disorder among women. It is the most common cause of anovulation and sterility in women of reproductive age.
According to the Consensus Rotterdam of American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) − European Society for Human Reproduction and Embriology (ESHRE), PCOS is diagnosed and characterised by two of three symptoms:
- Oligo-ovulation and/ or anovulation;
- Hyperandrogenism; and/ or
- Polycystic ovary which is defined as the existence of 12 or more follicles (diameter between 2-9 mm) and/or ovarian volume greater than 10 mm.
Anovulation is the lack or absence of ovulation (the release of an egg from a woman’s ovaries). It is a common cause of infertility. According to the National Institutes of Health, these conditions account for almost 30 percent of female infertility.
Anovulation is typically coupled with irregular or lack of menstruation. However, with anovulatory cycles, there may be bleeding, which a woman may mistake for a normal menstruation. Common clinical symptoms includes menstrual disorders known as Oligomenorrhea or Amenorrhea. Anovulation may also be caused by the production of high levels of testosterone and luteinizing hormone (LH).
Hyperandrogenism, on the other hand, is a medical condition characterised by high levels of androgens in females. In other words, it is a condition that describes excessive circulating male sex hormone (testosterone) in females and its effects on the body. Common symptoms may include:
- Seborrhea (inflamed skin);
- Hirsutism (excessive growth of dark or coarse hair in a male-like pattern on the face, chest and back);
- Acanthosis nigricans (a skin condition characterized by areas of dark, velvety discoloration in body folds and creases);
- Alopecia (a condition that causes hair to fall out in small patches); and
PCOS may also lead to the development of cysts in the ovaries and fail to regularly release eggs. Ovarian cysts are fluid-filled sacs in the ovary and are usually formed during ovulation. However, the cysts are usually harmless.
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Sam S, Dunaif A. Polycystic ovary syndrome: syndrome XX? Trends Endocrinol Metab. 2003;14:365–370.