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Women's Health

Polycystic Ovary Syndrome

01/25/2010

Question:

Explain polycystic ovarian syndrome?

Answer:

Polycystic ovarian syndrome, or PCOS, is a condition in which the ovaries do not ovulate regularly, so that there are often months that go by without a period, followed by heavy irregular bleeding caused by the tissue that builds up within the uterus. Despite the name, cysts do not have to be present in the ovaries, but the multiple small follicles (where egg cells develop) that never fully develop can give the ovary a multicystic appearance. These follicles also tend to produce more androgens (or male-type hormones) that can cause acne and abnormal hair growth.

The condition is more common in women who are overweight, and weight loss and exercise are very effective in improving the situation.

Usually PCOS is treated with birth control pills, which regulate the bleeding and also prevent the acne and hair growth. If you are not sexually active and don`t need birth control, the bleeding can be controlled with a small dose of hormone (a progestin) taken for a few days each month to bring on an orderly period. Medications that induce ovulation may be necessary to help a woman with PCOS to get pregnant.

A more thorough explanation of the condition can be found at the link below.

Related Resources:

Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)

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Response by:

Jonathan  A Schaffir, MD Jonathan A Schaffir, MD
Clnical Assistant Professor of Obstetrics & Gynecology
College of Medicine
The Ohio State University