What are Polycystic Ovaries?

PCOS is a condition that can affect your periods, fertility hormones and aspects of your appearance. It can also effect your long term health.


What are Polycystic Ovaries?

Polycystic ovaries are slightly larger than normal ovaries and have multiple follicles within the ovary. Having polycystic ovaries doesn’t necessarily mean that you have PCOS. Women with PCOS can have symptoms and polycystic ovaries both. 


Symptoms of PCOS include 

  1. Irregular periods or no periods at all 
  2. Increase in facial or body hair ( Hirsuitism )
  3. Loss of hair on the head
  4. Being overweight or rapid increase in weight 
  5. Oily skin and acne 
  6. Difficulty becoming pregnant ( reduced fertility ) 


Depression and psychological problems are very common in women with PCOS.


The symptoms vary from women to women. Some women have very few mild symptoms while others are affected severely by a wider range of symptoms. 

PCOS is one of the common causes of fertility problems in women.



What causes PCOS?


The cause of PCOS is not yet known but it often runs in families. If any of your relatives (mother, aunt, sister ) are affected by PCOS your risk of developing PCOS may be increased. 

The symptoms could be because of abnormal hormone levels 

  1. Testosterone – hirsutism 
  2. Insulin 



How is PCOS diagnosed?


Having polycystic ovaries doesn’t mean you have PCOS. Women with PCOS often have symptoms that come and go, particularly if their weight goes up and down. This can make it a difficult condition to diagnose which means it may take a while to get a diagnosis. 


For diagnosis, we require two of the following symptoms

Irregular, infrequent periods or no periods at all.  


An increase in facial and body hair and a blood test that shows higher testosterone levels than normal.An ultrasound scan that shows polycystic ovaries


When a diagnosis is made you may be referred to a gynaecologist ( a doctor who specializes in caring for women’s reproductive system ) or endocrinology ( a doctor who specializes in the hormonal system ).


What could PCOS mean for my long term health? 


If you have PCOS, you are at greater risk of developing the long term health problems discussed below 


  1. Insulin resistance and diabetes 

    If you have PCOS, your risk of developing diabetes is increased if you 

    • More than 40 years 
    • Relative with diabetes 
    • Developed diabetes during pregnancy 
    • Obese BMI more than 30 


  2. High blood pressure 
  3. Endometrial cancer 
  4. Dyslipidemia 
  5. Depression and mood swings
  6. Snoring and daytime drowsiness

What can I do to reduce my long term health risk 

  • Have a healthy lifestyle 
  • Balanced diet 
  • Regular exercise 
  • Yoga and meditation 


The benefits of losing weight include 

  • Reduced risk of insulin resistance and diabetes later in life
  • Lower risk of heart problems 
  • Lower risk of cancer of the uterus 
  • More regular periods 
  • Increase chances of becoming pregnant 
  • Lower risk of acne and excess hair growth
  • Improved mood and self-esteem 


You only have to lose a small amount of weight to make a difference to your symptoms and your health.

This ia myth that PCOS by itself can cause you to gain weight or make losing weight difficult. 

Have regular health check-up.

Once you have a diagnosis of PCOS, you will be monitored to check for any early signs of health problems 

  • Diabetes 
  • Endometrial cancer 
  • High blood pressure 
  • Depression and psychological problems 


Is there a cure?


There is no cure for PCOS. Medical treatment aims to manage and reduce the symptoms or consequences of having PCOS. Healthy lifestyle changes ( weight loss and exercise ) are much better than medications in solving problems of PCOS in long term.

Many women with PCOS successfully manage their symptoms and long term health risk without medical intervention. They do this by eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly and maintaining a healthy lifestyle.