This hormonal disorder is one of the most common reasons women pursue fertility treatments. But in the age of misinformation, it can be remarkably easy to confuse symptoms. PCOS occurs when a woman has a lot of resting follicles but doesn’t actually ovulate. Women with polycystic ovary syndrome may have 10 to 20 on both ovaries—20 to 40 or more than women without PCOS.
Polycystic ovary syndrome is very common, but not easily diagnosed. Patients must have two out of three symptoms: irregular menstrual cycles from irregular ovulation, excess androgen activity, and polycystic ovaries. Often, an information gap occurs as women may speak to several different specialists about these issues. For instance, you’d talk to your dermatologist about your acne, but you likely wouldn’t think to talk to your gynecologist about it.
According to the American College of Gynecologists and Obstetricians (ACOG), the cause of polycystic ovary syndrome is not known, and birth control pills often mask the most common warning sign, irregular periods.
PCOS is also a risk factor for heart disease and diabetes, though weight has no bearing on a woman’s diagnosis.
Talk to your primary care doctor if you suspect PCOS is responsible for your symptoms.