Eli5: What is Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) ?


Eli5: What is Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) ?

In: 5

It’s the most common endocrine (hormonal) disorder in women. Even though it has “cystic” in the name, not every woman will have cysts on her ovaries. Basically, their ovaries produce more androgen (testosterone) than is normal for women. This causes symptoms such as irregular periods, unusually heavy and painful periods, infertility, acne, hair loss (like male pattern baldness), the growth of darker/coarser/thicker facial hair and body hair, and insulin resistance (often contributing to weight gain and difficulty losing weight).

It can be treated with diet (usually low carb or keto diet), exercise, weight loss (if overweight), and by reducing stress. It is also treated with medication such as Metformin (for insulin resistance), spironolactone (to lower androgen/testosterone levels), hormonal birth control, and topicals like Vaniqa cream (for facial hair). Laser hair removal and electrolysis treatments are often done to reduce body hair.

If the woman wants to get pregnant, she will obviously have to stop taking the birth control, but also the spironolactone (causes birth defects). She may need fertility drugs or other methods to successfully become pregnant.