Polycystic Ovary Syndrome
Is a problem with hormones that affects women during their childbearing years (ages 15 to 44). Between 2.2 and 26.7 percent of women in this age group have PCOS. Many women have PCOS but don’t know it. In one study, up to 70 percent of women with PCOS hadn’t been diagnosed.
In each menstrual cycle, follicles grow on the ovaries. Eggs develop within those follicles, one of which will reach maturity faster than the others and be released into the fallopian tubes. This is "ovulation". The remaining follicles will degenerate. In the case of polycystic ovaries, however, the ovaries are larger than normal, and there are a series of undeveloped follicles that appear in clumps, somewhat like a bunch of grapes. The cysts are not harmful but lead to hormone imbalances.
Combined hormonal birth control pills can be used for long-term treatment in women with PCOS who do not wish to become pregnant. Combined hormonal pills contain both estrogen and progestin. These birth control pills regulate the menstrual cycle and reduce hirsutism and acne by decreasing androgen levels. They also decrease the risk of endometrial cancer.
Symptoms Some women start seeing symptoms around the time of their first period. Others only discover they have PCOS after they’ve gained a lot of weight or they’ve had trouble getting pregnant.
The most common PCOS symptoms are: