Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS): Symptoms, Causes, and Treatments

Polycystic ovary syndrome, or Polycystic Ovarian Disease (PCOD), is a common illness affecting women of reproductive age. It causes irregular periods and hormonal imbalances.

PCOS is a hormonal disorder that affects women of reproductive age. Women with PCOS experience excess hair growth, acne, and weight gain. When the androgen, or male sex hormones, in women, rise, the condition affects one's ovaries. It leads to the growth of cysts in the ovaries.

This article will discuss the symptoms, causes, and treatment options for PCOS.

Why does PCOS occur?

The exact cause of PCOS is unknown. Women with PCOS have higher levels of androgens, or male hormones, than average. These imbalances cause the development of small cysts on the ovaries. When the ovary does not release eggs during ovulation, little fluid-filled sacs (cysts) develop. This causes irregular periods and other related symptoms.

Common Symptoms of PCOS

  • Irregular or skipped periods: Many women with PCOS often face irregular menstrual cycles. Sometimes they skip periods for months due to ovulation problems.
  • Excessive hair growth: Hirsutism is a side effect of PCOS. It affects almost 70 per cent of women suffering from PCOS. It results in excessive hair growth on the face and thicker hair growth on the body.
  • Acne: Pimples on the face, chest and upper back are common in women with PCOS.
  • Painful periods: Painful periods vary from woman to woman. Periods with nausea, cramps, diarrhoea, dizziness, and fatigue can be possible symptoms of PCOS.
  • Skin darkening: PCOS can cause darkening of the skin around the neck, armpits, groin, and other folds. 
  • Weight gain: Most women with PCOS gain a lot of weight and find it difficult to lose it. However, there are cases of women being underweight and suffering from PCOS.

Prevention and Treatment for PCOS

Even though there is no cure for PCOS, treatments are available to manage the symptoms. Exercise and a healthy diet can help improve symptoms such as weight gain and irregular periods. Birth control pills and metformin can regulate periods and lower androgen levels.

Lifestyle changes can have an impact and influence by

  1. Maintaining a healthy weight through regular exercise and a balanced diet
  2. Avoiding smoking and excessive alcohol consumption
  3. Managing stress through relaxation techniques such as yoga or meditation
  4. Keeping your blood sugar levels in check


Almost one in five Indian women have PCOS. Research studies point to a poor and sedentary lifestyle as the primary problem. PCOS is treatable and can be diagnosed. Early diagnosis makes the management of the condition easier.

Mild symptoms of PCOD usually start showing up at an early age. Still, it is only detected when women face infertility issues later, which becomes a more significant concern.

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1. I am not overweight, but I have irregular periods. Should I consult a doctor about PCOS?

If you have other symptoms without being overweight, you might still be at risk of having PCOD. Women with PCOD show milder or some of the symptoms, if not all. Ultrasonography tests can help determine if you have PCOS or PCOD.

2. What are the symptoms of PCOS?

The symptoms of PCOS include irregular periods, hormonal imbalances, and the development of small cysts on the ovaries. Women with PCOS may also experience excess hair growth, acne, and weight gain.

3. Who is at risk for PCOS?

PCOS affects women of reproductive age, and it is more common in women who are overweight or obese. Women with a family history of the condition are also more likely to develop PCOS.

4. How can PCOS be detected?

Detect PCOS through physical exams, blood tests, and ultrasounds. A doctor may also perform a pelvic exam to check for cysts on the ovaries.

5. Can PCOS lead to infertility?

PCOS does not necessarily lead to infertility. Women with PCOS may need help, such as fertility treatments, to become pregnant.

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