What are the signs and symptoms of PCOS?

Doctor's Answers 1

What is Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)?

Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a result of a hormonal disorder commonly found in women of reproductive age. These affected women may have a variety of symptoms or even no symptoms at all. They can have one or several symptoms and to various degrees of severity.

The common symptoms include irregular or infrequent or prolonged menses and signs of excess male hormone (androgen) levels (facial acne, excess facial and body hair called hirsutism and even male pattern baldness). A fair number of PCOS patients tend to be obese and the symptoms and signs of PCOS tend to be more severe in this group.

How do you detect PCOS?

An ultrasound scan may show that the ovaries appear to have numerous small collections of fluid (follicles) in the periphery of the ovary (like a chain of black pearls on ultrasound scan) and fail to regularly release eggs (anovulation) on a monthly basis. For PCOS women who do not ovulate, they may then experience infertility. Other complications associated with PCOS include miscarriages, gestational diabetes or pregnancy-induced hypertension, hypertension, hypercholesterolemia, fatty liver, anxiety, depression, sleep apnea, type 2 diabetes, and even uterine cancer.

The exact cause of PCOS is unknown but may be hereditary. Long-term complications of PCOS such as type 2 diabetes and heart disease can be reduced with early diagnosis and treatment along with weight loss measures.

Similar Questions

Should I be worried about PCOS if I have irregular periods?

thanks for your question. In a nutshell, yes you should definitely see your GP regarding your irregular periods to rule out certain things, PCOS being one of them. Excess body hair (hirsutism in medical speak) and irregular periods are some common characteristics of PCOS, with the others including being overweight and having acne. So what you’ve told me is certainly suggestive. Thyroids disorders are also a rare cause of irregular periods, especially if you know that you have a family history of thyroid problems. This can also be screened for easily when you see your GP.

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Could I still be pregnant despite a negative pregnancy test if I’m experiencing brown discharge?

If you suspect there is a high chance of pregnancy, I would suggest repeating the urine pregnancy test in a week’s time. If it still negative then it is unlikely you are pregnant. Irregular bleeding like what you describe is not uncommon in PCOS even in the absence of pregnancy. I would recommend using contraception if you are sexually active. In addition to preventing pregnancy, contraception like the oral contraceptive pill (OCP) will make your periods regular and light, and prevent endometrial hyperplasia (build up of womb lining) which is very common in PCOS.

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Dr Jasmine Mohd


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