What is PCOS?
Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, also known as PCOS, is one of the most common endocrine disorders in women, affecting up to 1 in 10 women during their reproductive years. However, despite PCOS being so common, many people do not know they have it.
PCOS creates a hormonal imbalance where higher-than-normal testosterone hormones are produced, which can cause a range of issues for people who suffer from it.
The cause of PCOS is not known, but it is believed to relate to insulin levels and how these affect the ovaries. It is also genetic: if your mother or sister has PCOS, you are more likely to have it.
Symptoms of PCOS
Not everyone who has PCOS will have the same symptoms, or the same severity of symptoms.
PCOS symptoms can include:
- Excess hair growth on your face, chest, stomach or back
- Easy weight gain
- Irregular periods, or no periods
- Mental health and mood issues, including depression and anxiety
- Dark patches on your skin
- Hair loss or baldness
- Swollen abdominal area
People with PCOS also have a higher risk of other health problems, including type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol and heart disease. Each person’s experience will be different but if you think you might have PCOS, it’s always good to talk to your doctor about it as an early diagnosis can mean better outcomes for your health.
Testing and diagnosis
PCOS can be tricky to diagnose as there are so many different symptoms and not everyone will have the same set of those symptoms. This means there isn’t one single test that your doctor can do.
Usually, your doctor will talk to you about your symptoms, then they may refer you for blood tests to check your hormone levels and other factors. They may also refer you for an ultrasound to check for cysts.
Each person’s treatment plan is unique and will relate to their symptoms. Management options may include changes to your lifestyle (eating different foods, exercising more or seeking counselling to deal with symptoms), but medicines may also be prescribed. These could be for hormonal symptoms or for mental health symptoms.
Because PCOS is difficult to treat and manage, it’s important to keep in touch with your doctor and make sure that any treatment plan you have been prescribed is working well for you.
Frances Perry House is home to a team of experienced and highly reputable gynaecologists with experience in a range of women's health issues, including PCOS.
To see a gynaecologist at Frances Perry House please request a referral from your GP. You can choose a specialist using our specialist search tool.