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PCOS: A Common Hormonal Disorder In Women

Written by
Dr. Purushottam Sah
and medically reviewed by iCliniq medical review team.

Published on May 24, 2015 and last reviewed on Dec 29, 2018   -  2 min read


In Poly Cystic Ovarian Syndrome/Disease, the ovaries develop many small follicles and lead to hormonal imbalance in women.

PCOS: A Common Hormonal Disorder In Women

What is PCOS?

PCOS is Poly Cystic Ovary Syndrome. Here the ovaries develop many small follicles, also called cysts of 4-10mm. Poly means ‘many’ and ‘cysts’ are small closed sacs filled with fluid. It often occurs in general female population but is more prevalent in infertility populations. Its cause is not known although it is likely to be due to some genetic disorder.

It causes insulin resistance, a condition where sugar lowering hormone insulin, fails in its action. This results in hormonal imbalance, causing failure of follicles to mature and ovulate.

The immature follicles in PCOS produce more androgen (male hormone) than estrogen (female hormone). Oral contraceptive pills prevent development of immature follicles, but do not dissolve the existing follicles/cysts. The existing cysts dry up naturally over time.

In contrast Clomiphene develops mature follicles which are of 17 to 18mm or more in size. These produce more estrogen as well as ovulate. Clomiphene also does not dissolve the existing follicles/cysts.

Symptoms of PCOS

The immature follicles, also called cysts produce more androgen/testosterone causing the following symptoms:

How to Treat PCOS

PCOS is not completely reversible, but there are a number of treatments that can reduce the symptoms.

The treatment varies depending on the particular problem in a woman.

Irregular periods: If the main problem is irregular periods, then the usual treatment is the oral contraceptive pill.

Infertility: Ovulation can be induced by Clomiphene.

Excessive hair growth: Suppression of male hormone production with tablets such as the oral contraceptive pill or with an anti-male hormone drug Cyproterone acetate used for at least 9 months.

Obesity: A change in lifestyle with low fat diet and exercise can reduce weight. Metformin,a drug used for diabetes can also reduce weight and improve hormonal imbalance.

Consult an obstetrician and gynaecologist online for queries regarding PCOS -->


Frequently Asked Questions


What Is the Major Cause of Polycystic Ovary Syndrome?

PCOS is a common hormonal disorder that affects women's ovaries during the childbearing age and affects their hormone levels. The exact cause is unknown, but several factors like excess insulin and androgen, and hereditary (genes) play a significant role.


What Are the Four Types of PCOS?

The four different types of PCOS are:
- Insulin-resistant PCOS - occurs due to the high insulin levels, which prevent ovulation, and trigger ovaries to create testosterone.
- Post-pill PCOS - occurs due to birth control pills.
Inflammatory PCOS - is caused by chronic immune activation to protect against stress or foreign particles.
- Adrenal PCOS - occurs when the androgen released during stress is converted to testosterone.


How Do You Feel When You Have PCOS?

When you have PCOS, you may feel depressed, anxious, tired, impatient, fearful, have trouble managing weight, and sleep apnea.


What Happens if You Have PCOS?

When you have PCOS, you will have irregular periods, unwanted and excessive hair growth (especially in the face, chest, buttocks, and back), acne, difficulty getting pregnant, and obesity. The elevated levels of male hormones may result in these physical signs. Physical examination and blood tests help diagnose this condition.


Is PCOS a Severe Condition?

PCOS is a very severe condition because it can increase the risk of a range of health problems, including type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, heart attack, stroke, and the risk of developing endometrial and breast cancer.


Will PCOS Go Away on Its Own?

PCOS will never go away on its own, but the symptoms can be managed with the help of various treatment options. Meaning, it is an incurable but manageable disease. Even in menopausal women with PCOS, the levels of androgens are high along with insulin resistance, making them at risk for various complications associated with PCOS.


What Happens if PCOS Is Not Treated?

If left untreated, PCOS may lead to serious, life-threatening illnesses, such as cardiovascular diseases, type 2 diabetes, stroke, uterine and endometrial cancers. It may also lead to reproductive complications, such as ovulation dysfunction and infertility.


Can PCOS Make You Fat?

PCOS makes women gain weight more quickly than others. The more weight they gain, the more additional symptoms they will have. More than 50 % of women with PCOS are overweight, and they have a hard time controlling their weight.


How to Reduce Your Belly if You Have PCOS?

Belly fat in PCOS patients can be reduced by:
- Consuming a high-fiber diet.
- Avoiding sugary foods and beverages.
- Eating four to six small meals in a day rather than three large meals.
- Exercising for at least 30 minutes a day.


Can Weight Loss Cure PCOS?

Losing weight cannot cure PCOS, but it can significantly improve PCOS symptoms and reduce the risk of other health conditions. It also enhances reproductive aspects like regulating your menstrual cycle and helps with ovulation affected by PCOS.


Can PCOS Be Treated Naturally?

The following natural remedies can manage PCOS:
- Support your gut health.
- Improve insulin sensitivity and blood sugar levels.
- Eat liver-friendly foods and herbs.
- Maintain the levels of cortisol by lowering stress.


Is It Possible to Get Pregnant if You Have PCOS?

Untreated PCOS can make getting pregnant difficult. But if you maintain your body weight and BMI (body mass index), eat healthily, maintain blood sugar levels, and use an ovulation calendar to track your periods, you have chances to get pregnant naturally even with PCOS. Sometimes, in vitro fertilization (IVF) treatment and other assisted reproductive technology (ART) might be needed to help you get pregnant with PCOS.


What Foods to be avoided in PCOS?

The foods to be avoided in PCOS are:
- Refined carbohydrates.
- Fried food items.
- Sugary beverages.
- Processed meats.
- Solid fats.
- Excess red meat.


How Can Women With PCOS Conceive Naturally?

Women with PCOS can become pregnant naturally:
- By exercising more frequently.
- Managing their insulin levels with a healthy diet.
- Keeping stress levels down.
- Balancing hormonal levels.


Can Miscarriages Be Prevented in PCOS?

Early loss of pregnancy or miscarriage is three times more common in women with PCOS. The continuous intake of Metformin until the first trimester of pregnancy reduces miscarriages in women with PCOS.


Do Babies Born to Mothers With PCOS Have Congenital Disabilities?

Infants born to mothers with PCOS are prone to various complications that need treatment in the neonatal intensive care unit. They are also at risk of dying before, during, or right after birth. There is also increased risk of neonatal low blood glucose level, doubling of perinatal death rate, respiratory distress syndrome, fetal malformations, cardiovascular malformation, urinary and genital malformations, undescended testicles, and a patent ductus arteriosus in the infant.


Does PCOS Get Cured After Pregnancy?

PCOS does not go away after pregnancy, and the symptoms might return eventually. The only permanent cure is getting the ovaries removed.

Last reviewed at:
29 Dec 2018  -  2 min read




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