Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is the presence of small cysts on women’s ovaries that cause a hormonal imbalance, which can impact menstruation and fertility.

Many women with PCOS blame their symptoms on difficult periods, and can remain unaware of the condition until symptoms increase in severity or the condition impacts family planning.

What are the symptoms of PCOS?

  • Unwanted hair growth on the face, chest, back, stomach and toes
  • Head hair loss or thinning
  • Pelvic pain
  • Irritability
  • Irregular menstruation
  • Weight gain
  • Insomnia
  • Fatigue
  • Facial acne

How does it impact family planning?

  • Gestational diabetes
  • Premature birth
  • Preeclampsia
  • Miscarriage

How is it treated?

  • Lifestyle changes dedicated to a healthy weight, balanced diet and regular exercise
  • Cutting out tobacco use
  • Hormone therapy, such as the birth control pill
  • Regular checkups to determine whether complications from PCOS are present, such as high cholesterol, high blood pressure and diabetes

The patient’s family planning needs also is a factor in treatment. Birth control will not be recommended if a patient wishes to try for a pregnancy.

What you need to know

PCOS does not typically impact a woman’s ability to conceive, but it can impact her ability to carry a healthy pregnancy. Those who experience the above symptoms are advised to contact their PGOMG provider in order to determine if testing is appropriate. Please remember that although there is no current cure for PCOS, there are effective treatments available to improve your quality of life and help you with family planning goals.