What is PCOS?

I was diagnosed with PCOS in 2003 and since then the definition of what PCOS is or how we get it has changed.  Here is a general idea of what PCOS is, which I found through searching the internet.  Each thing is given a sourced link for referencing to as well.  Please feel free to share more info in a comment to this post 🙂 please make sure you share the source link, so proper credit is given.
Poly-Cystic Ovary Syndrome – PCOS – is the most common endocrine disease that affects women of reproductive age (puberty to menopause). It is also one of the most confusing. It affects approximately 10% of women in the reproductive age group. There have been some new developments that are giving us a much better understanding of this problem.
PCOS is an unfortunate term because the word “ovarian” appears in the name of this syndrome. For years, many people automatically assumed that it is purely an ovarian disease. We now recognize that it is in fact, a systemic endocrine and metabolic disorder. Multiple factors are at work. It should really be called the “Poly-Cystic Ovary/Excess Androgen Production /Adrenal Hyperplasia / Insulin Resistant / Hyperpipidemic / Often Overweight / Anovulatory /Hirsute / Sometimes Acne” Syndrome.
PCOS is a total body endocrine disease. It is unfortunate and confusing that the word “Ovary” appears in the name. The abnormalities in the ovary are really more the result of the problem – not the cause.
The problem is further complicated by the fact that there is really no universal definition of PCOS even though most endocrinologists would agree on a set of criteria necessary to make the diagnosis. If there is one absolute that is necessary to make the diagnosis of PCOS, it is the complete or almost complete lack of ovulation. Women who are ovulating regularly on their own, cannot, by definition, have PCOS. There are however Reproductive Endocrinologists who feel that women who have all the features of PCOS except for the fact that they ovulate may have a subset of the syndrome. However, these women are much less likely to be insulin resistant.
The other criteria that must be satisfied is that the women have either clinical or laboratory evidence of increased androgen (male hormone) production, either facial hair and/or acne. Laboratory confirmation is important because women from certain ethnic groups such as Oriental, Hispanic, or Native American may show very little clinical evidence of increased androgen production even in the face of significantly elevated blood levels.

PCOS is a problem in which a woman’s hormones are out of balance.  It can cause problems with your periods and make it difficult to get pregnant.  PCOS may also cause unwanted changes in the way you look.  If it is not treated, over time it can lead to serious health problems, such as diabetes and heart disease.


PCOS is the most common hormonal problem in women.  It is also a metabolic disorder that affects several body systems and cause significant long-tern health consequences.  PCOS is often characterized by enlarges ovaries, with multiple small painless cysts or follicles that form in the ovary.  Two other key features of PCOS are production of excess androgens (male sex hormones) and an-ovulation (the failure to ovulate properly), which makes PCOS the leading cause of infertility.

What are the symptoms of PCOS?

– Acne

– Weight gain
– Trouble losing weight
– Thinning hair on the scalp
Irregular periods (often women have fewer than 9 periods a year, some have none, other very heavy bleeding)
– Depression
– Anovulation
– Hyperandrogenism (increased testosterone)
– Cystic ovaries
– Enlarged ovaries
– Insulin resistance

– Hypertension (high blood pressure)

– Hirsutism (excess hair)

– Hyperinsulinemia

– Diabetes
– Alopecia
– Acne
– Oily Skin
– Acanthosis nigricans (dark patches of skin)
Acrochordons (skin tags)

source 2

How is PCOS diagnosed?


1. You can do a self examination and see if you notice any outward changes in your body, check your BMI etc.  If you see any of these symptoms in your physical appearance you will want to get blood tests and ultrasounds done to confirm whether you have PCOS.

2. Ask your doctor to check the following: blood sugar, insulin, hormone levels, cholesterol levels, leutenising hormone (LH), progesterone blood test 7 days before your expected menstrual cycle, prolactin levels, and have them do a pelvic ultrasound to check for cysts.  You will also want them to check other glands and your thyroid to make sure it isn’t something else that can cause some of the same symptoms.

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