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Polycystic Ovary Syndrome - Overview

Polycystic Ovary Syndrome is a common condition which affects the ovaries. The main 3 effects are:
  • Irregular periods - meaning your ovaries do not release eggs regularly.
  • High levels of male hormones such as testosterone - this can cause physical symptoms such as facial or bodily hair.
  • Polycystic Ovaries - your ovaries become enlarged and contain many fluid-filled sacs (follicles) that surround the eggs (but despite the name, you do not actually have cysts if you have PCOS)

You may only be diagnosed with PCOS if you have 2 or more of these effects.

What are the symptoms of PCOS?

  • Irregular periods or no periods at all
  • Difficulty getting pregnant due to problems with ovulation
  • Excessive hair growth - usually on face, chest, back or buttocks
  • Weight gain
  • Hair loss
  • Acne or oily skin
Find out more about Polycystic Ovary Syndrome:
CausesTreatmentsPolycystic Ovary Syndrome Specialists
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What Causes Polycystic Ovary Syndrome?

The exact cause of PCOS is unknown, but often runs in families. It is related to abnormal levels of hormones in the body, including high levels of insulin. Insulin controls sugar in the body. Many women with PCOS produce extra insulin to compensate for its reduced effects. This contributes to the overproduction of testosterone. Being overweight or obese can also increase the amount of insulin your body produces.

How can PCOS be Treated?

PCOS itself cannot be cured, but the symptoms can be eased with proper treatment:
  • If you are overweight then losing weight, along with a healthier diet, can ease symptoms.
  • Medicines are available to treat the symptoms: excess hair growth, irregular periods, and fertility problems.
  • If medicines are unsuccessful you may be recommended laparoscopic ovarian drilling (LOD) - this uses heat or a laser to remove tissue in the ovaries that produces excess testosterone.
  • With treatment, most women with PCOS are able to get pregnant.

Polycystic Ovaries - Specialists

Mrs Ruchira Singh

Mrs Ruchira Singh

Consultant Obstetrician and Gynaecologist

Ruchira is a Consultant Obstetrician and Gynaecologist with her NHS practice based at Birmingham Women's Hospital in Edgbaston. She is the Clinical Director of Gynaecology at her NHS Trust.

Ruchira is a reviewer for European Journal of Obstetrics and gynaecology. She is also a Senior clinical examiner and Honorary lecturer for University of Birmingham.

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Dr Pallavi Latthe

Dr Pallavi Latthe

Consultant Gynaecologist and subspecialist Urogynaecologist

Dr Pallavi is an accredited subspecialist in urogynaecology and a consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist at the Birmingham Women’s NHS Foundation Trust.

She is the clinical lead for Paediatric and Adolescent Gynaecology in the Trust.

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