URL of this page: https://medlineplus.gov/polycysticovarysyndrome.html

Polycystic Ovary Syndrome

Also called: PCOS, Stein-Leventhal Syndrome 


Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) happens when a woman's ovaries or adrenal glands produce more male hormones than normal. PCOS causes cysts (fluid-filled sacs) to grow on the ovaries. Symptoms include

  • Irregular menstrual periods
  • Infertility
  • Pelvic pain
  • Excess hair growth on the face, chest, stomach, or thighs
  • Weight gain
  • Acne or oily skin
  • Patches of thickened skin

Women with PCOS are at higher risk of diabetes, metabolic syndrome, heart disease, and high blood pressure.

PCOS is more common in women who are obese, or have a mother or sister with PCOS. To diagnose PCOS, your health care provider may do a physical exam, pelvic exam, blood tests, and an ultrasound.

There is no cure, but diet, exercise, and medicines can help control the symptoms. Birth control pills help women have normal periods, reduce male hormone levels, and clear acne. Treatments for infertility caused by PCOS may include medicines, surgery, and in vitro fertilization (IVF).

NIH: National Institute of Child Health and Human Development

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