Need to Know: Polycystic Ovary Syndrome


Menstruation is a natural occurring phenomenon, and just one of the countless miracles the human body performs on a surprisingly regular basis. Every 4 weeks or so, a female’s hormones set in motion the menstrual cycle, a series of events intended to create favorable conditions for pregnancy. Of course, when it comes to hormones, it’s a delicate balancing act from beginning to end. Too much of one or not enough of another and the whole system gets thrown out of kilter. That’s what most researchers believe is behind Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS). In PCOS, that progression is interrupted and the results can be seen in a number of different signs and symptoms.

The How’s and Why’s of Polycystic Ovary Syndrome

During a normal menstrual cycle, an egg grows and matures in the ovary, and is then released (otherwise known as ovulation) to make its way to the uterus where it waits for fertilization. For females with PCOS, a hormone imbalance results in the egg never making it out of the ovary, and therefore she will not ovulate. That’s why two of the most common symptoms of Polycystic Ovary Syndrome are infrequent or even a total lack of periods and infertility.

There are also several other signs of PCOS, with most of them relating directly back to a hormonal imbalance. Some clues include unexplained weight gain, thinning hair on the scalp, acne or oily skin, excess hair on the face, abdomen, back, and even mood swings and sleep apnea.

Like so many other things when it comes to your health and wellness, genetics seems to be one of the factors behind who does and who doesn’t have PCOS. Studies show that many sufferers have other female family members with a similar history of symptoms. Although there are no tests to specifically identify PCOS, there are several different factors and physical exams your health care provider can use to narrow down a diagnosis, and advise an approach for treatment.