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Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) in Female Teenagers and Women

About PCOS and the possible symptoms, risks, and causes

Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a common condition that causes a range of symptoms, including irregular periods, unwanted hair growth, acne, and weight problems. Symptoms may start when you first get your period, but sometimes don’t begin until your early to mid-20s.

The condition can increase your risk for diabetes and heart disease in the future; thus, it is important to talk to your doctor if you have symptoms of PCOS as early treatment can help reduce these risks. Fortunately, lifestyle changes as well as medications can help manage the symptoms of PCOS.

The name Polycystic Ovary Syndrome comes from the small cysts (fluid-filled sacs) that some women with this condition develop on their ovaries. The ovaries are the almond-shaped organs in the female reproductive system responsible for making hormones (estrogen and progesterone) and also storing and releasing eggs. However, many women with PCOS do not have these cysts.

Symptoms of Polycystic Ovary Syndrome
The symptoms of PCOS vary, and may include the following:

  • Irregular periods—you may have your period less than once a month (usually less than 8 per year), or not at all; you may also have heavy bleeding
  • Weight gain (yet some women with PCOS are thin)
  • Excess hair growth on the face, chest, back, stomach, or upper arms and inner thighs
  • Acne
  • Oily skin
  • Patches of thick, dark skin (called acanthosis nigricans) on the neck, arms, breasts, or thighs
  • Thinning hair
  • Difficulty conceiving

If you are concerned about PCOS, take our two-minute PCOS symptoms quiz for an assessment of the likelihood that you are experiencing the symptoms of PCOS.

Causes of Polycystic Ovary Syndrome
The exact cause of PCOS is unknown. What is known is that some teenagers and women with the condition make extra testosterone. Testosterone is typically thought of as a male hormone, but women’s bodies make it too. Higher than normal testosterone levels cause the unwanted hair growth and acne that many women with PCOS experience.  It may also lead to irregular periods.

Many women with PCOS also have insulin resistance, which means that their bodies do not respond well to the hormone insulin that controls blood sugar levels. This causes blood sugar (glucose) levels to rise and the body to produce even more insulin, which researchers think may lead to greater production of testosterone, increased appetite, and development of type 2 diabetes.

The condition sometimes runs in families so if your mother or sister has PCOS, you are more likely to have it too.

Continue Article: Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) Treatment: Managing Symptoms


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Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) Treatment