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Polycystic Ovary Disease and Insulin Resistance

What is polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)?

PCOS is a highly variable condition with many different features. Common symptoms include abnormal menstrual cycle and sometimes features such as acne or unwanted hair on the face or body. It is often seen in women who are overweight, but can affect women of normal weight. PCOS affects women of any age and is the major cause of an abnormal menstrual cycle and infertility. In some women, it can be associated with an increased risk of heart disease and endometrial cancer.

The cause of PCOS is unknown, but lifestyle and family history are important risk factors.

PCOS can result in high levels of insulin (insulin resistance) and androgens (hormones that act like the male hormone testosterone in women).

How is PCOS diagnosed?

Many women have irregular periods. To be formally diagnosed with PCOS, your endocrinologist will take a thorough history, perform a clinical examination and consider necessary blood tests or ultrasound to confirm the diagnosis.

How is PCOS treated?

There are different treatment options for the management of PCOS, depending on the presenting symptoms and what stage of life you are in. 

Lifestyle can play a key role in the management of PCOS. Weight management and medications can be helpful. If pregnancy is desired, there are several strategies including medication options, to facilitate getting pregnant.

Your endocrinologist will develop a holistic treatment plan for you and work with you to achieve your goals.