Polycystic ovary syndrome

Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) occurs when a hormone imbalance interferes with normal ovulation. PCOS is a major cause of infertility; if it is not treated, it can lead to serious health problems, such as diabetes and heart disease.

Common symptoms of polycystic ovary syndrome include irregular menstrual cycles, weight gain, acne, male-pattern hair loss, and male-type hair growth on the face and body. Symptoms may occur early in the condition or develop gradually.

The cause of polycystic ovary syndrome is not fully understood. Genetics are a factor.

There is no known cure for polycystic ovary syndrome. Treatment focuses on correcting reproductive hormone levels, metabolism problems, and body weight. Regular exercise and a healthy diet are the cornerstone of PCOS treatment, and medicines can be helpful.

Last Updated: January 23, 2010

Author: Sandy Jocoy, RN

Medical Review: Sarah Marshall, MD - Family Medicine & Kirtly Jones, MD - Obstetrics and Gynecology

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