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Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome: Causes, Risk Factors, Prevention, and Treatments

What is polycystic ovarian syndrome? 

Polycystic ovarian Syndrome is a hormonal disorder that affects women of reproductive age ranging from 18 to 44 years of age.  So let’s discuss Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome: causes, risk factors, prevention, and treatments in detail.

This condition is associated with an overproduction of androgens, which are male hormones that are normally present in small amounts in women. 

This hormonal imbalance can lead to the development of small cysts in the ovaries, which can interfere with the normal functioning of the ovaries and lead to menstrual irregularities and infertility.

Symptoms commonly associated with PCOS

Symptoms of polycystic ovarian syndrome can widely differ in individuals. Some of these symptoms can present themselves differently over time. 

Some individuals can remain asymptomatic despite having this condition and can only be found when having difficulties getting pregnant.

Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome is a unique syndrome with its specific causes, risk factors that require particular prevention, and treatments.

Possible symptoms include:

Menstrual dysfunction:

Women suffering from pcos experience some type of abnormality in their menstrual cycle. Most women complain about having  heavy, long, intermittent, unpredictable, or absent periods


Females with this condition face many difficulties getting pregnant or are unable to conceive at all.


PCOS can cause changes in normal skin and may cause overproduction of oil resulting in acne or oily skin.

Growing abnormally excessive hair on the face or body this condition is also known as Hirsutism.

Hair loss:

Women suffering from PCOS  can also experience male-pattern baldness or hair thinning.

Weight fluctuation:

Women who suffer from pcos tend to gain weight, especially around the belly.

These are the symptoms that are mostly observed in women with this condition. While these are the most common ones not every woman with PCOS would share these. These symptoms tend to vary individually.

Women who suffer from PCOS may also experience a wide range of other health problems such as:- 

  • Insulin resistance
  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol levels
  • Cardiovascular diseases 

How is PCOS Diagnosed? 

The presence of the following features can diagnose polycystic ovarian syndrome:

  1. Self-assessment: Look out for visible signs or symptoms of high androgens such as unwanted facial or bodily hair, hair loss/hair thinning, acne, or an elevated blood level of testosterone.
  2. Irregular periods: Take note of your menstrual cycle and look out for any change you observe for example unusually heavy, long, or painful bleeding.
  3. Presence of cysts on ovaries on an ultrasound scan.
  4. Blood tests can help detect specific alterations in hormone levels, although these variations are not consistent across all individuals. For instance, women diagnosed with polycystic ovarian syndrome might exhibit higher-than-normal levels of the following hormones
  • Testosterone (an ovarian androgen hormone that influences hair growth).
  • Estrogen (an ovarian hormone that stimulates the growth of the womb lining (endometrium).
  • Luteinizing hormone (LH, a pituitary hormone that influences hormone production by the ovaries and is important for normal ovulation).
  • Insulin (a hormone that is principally involved in the utilization of energy from food).
  • Anti-müllerian hormone (which measures the fertility level of the ovaries).

All these lab values would be normal if the person doesn’t have PCOS.

What are the Causes and Risk Factors of PCOS?

The exact cause of PCOS is unknown, but it is believed to be related to insulin resistance, obesity, genetic predisposition (family history of ame disease), and exposure to certain environmental toxins.

Genetic predisposition & PCOS

PCOS has a strong genetic association. Genes like CAPN10, Cytochrome family p450, Insulin gene, AR, FTO, and FSHR are usually involved in this condition.

Insulin resistance: An increase in insulin levels causes the ovaries to make and release male hormones (androgens). Elevated levels of male hormones inhibit ovulation and are associated with other symptoms of PCOS.

Excess weight: Obesity is linked to insulin resistance and inflammation in the body which in turn can cause PCOS hence weight gain can play a role in the development of the condition. But PCOS can also contribute to weight gain.

High levels of androgens: This condition, known as hyperandrogenism, impacts the majority of individuals with PCOS.

Long-term, low-grade inflammation. This also contributes to your body’s overproduction of androgens.

Treatment Options

There are several different treatment options available for women with PCOS, depending on their specific symptoms, medical history, and needs. 

PCOS treatment can be divided into two categories:-

  1.  If you are not planning on conceiving following are the most common treatments available:

Hormonal birth control:

birth control comes in various forms these include birth control pills, patches, shots, a vaginal ring, or an intrauterine device (IUD).these interventions help to regulate the menstrual cycle, and some forms of birth control may also help with other symptoms of PCOS i.e improving acne and help with excess hair growth.

Medications that improve insulin sensitivity, such as Metformin, are used to manage PCOS. Metformin, originally a diabetes treatment, aids in insulin processing and reduces insulin resistance. For some individuals with PCOS, regulating insulin can lead to improvements in menstrual cycles.

Medications to block androgens:

Some medications can block the effect of androgens. These medications will help with symptoms like excessive hair growth and acne.

Lifestyle changes:

Eating a nutritious balanced diet and maintaining a healthy body weight can have a positive effect on insulin levels and overall health.

  1. If you are trying to conceive, treatment for PCOS includes:

Drugs to induce ovulation (releasing an egg):

A successful pregnancy begins with ovulation. A lot of drugs are now available to aid in ovulation.

Surgical intervention:

surgery can restore ovulation by removing ovarian tissue that produces androgen hormones. However, due to the availability of alternative treatments, surgery is not typically considered a primary option.

In vitro fertilization (IVF):

IVF is considered for individuals with PCOS when medication fails to induce ovulation. During IVF, your healthcare provider fertilizes your egg with your partner’s sperm in a laboratory setting, followed by transferring the embryo to your uterus.

Overall, with proper management, women with PCOS can lead healthy and fulfilling lives. By working closely with their healthcare providers and making healthy lifestyle choices, women with PCOS can reduce their symptoms and improve their overall quality of life.

Prevention Strategies

While there is no guaranteed way to prevent PCOS, there are several steps that women can take to reduce their risk of developing the condition. 

These include maintaining a healthy weight, exercising regularly, and following a balanced diet that is low in processed foods and high in whole grains, fruits, and vegetables.

For additional reading please read this:

Key Takeaways  

Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) is a hormonal disorder that impacts females during their reproductive years. 

It affects up to 1 in 10 women of childbearing age.

PCOS is caused by an imbalance of hormones, which can lead to the development of cysts on the ovaries. 

These cysts can interfere with ovulation, making it difficult for women to conceive.

The exact cause of PCOS is not fully understood, but it is believed to be related to a combination of genetic and environmental factors. 

Females with a family history of PCOS are at higher risk of developing the condition.

Other risk factors include obesity, insulin resistance, and a sedentary lifestyle. 

Females with PCOS are also more prone to developing type 2 diabetes, hypertension (high blood pressure), and cardiovascular disease.

According to a study published in 2018, the prevalence of PCOS is estimated to be around 5-10% worldwide.


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