PCOS Symptoms

Last Updated: March 17, 2022

Polycystic ovary syndrome is a condition causing hormonal problems where small cysts appear on the ovaries.


Polycystic ovary syndrome[1] (PCOS) is an endocrine and reproductive disorder characterized by an excess of hormones that regulate male characteristics (androgens) and ovulatory dysfunction. It affects about 6–20% of pre-menopausal women (depending on how it’s defined; see the sidebar below for more info on the definition of PCOS) and is associated with insulin resistance, dyslipidemia, and visceral adiposity[2] (fat that surrounds vital organs like the liver and intestines). Some of the metabolic consequences of PCOS are depicted in Figure 1.

Figure 1: The metabolic consequences of PCOS


Adapted from: Escobar-Morreale. Nat Rev Endocrinol. 2018 May.[1]

There is no universal treatment for PCOS. Since PCOS affects endocrine, reproductive, and, ultimately, metabolic health, treatment is individualized to the needs of the patient following first-line therapy[3] that involves lifestyle, diet, and/or exercise modifications. However, beyond energy restriction, no consensus exists for specific PCOS dietary guidelines, as research is quite scarce for this common, yet often scientifically-neglected, condition.

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  1. ^Héctor F Escobar-MorrealePolycystic ovary syndrome: definition, aetiology, diagnosis and treatmentNat Rev Endocrinol.(2018 May)
  2. ^A Shuster, M Patlas, J H Pinthus, M MourtzakisThe clinical importance of visceral adiposity: a critical review of methods for visceral adipose tissue analysisBr J Radiol.(2012 Jan)
  3. ^Helena J Teede, Marie L Misso, Michael F Costello, Anuja Dokras, Joop Laven, Lisa Moran, Terhi Piltonen, Robert J Norman, International PCOS NetworkRecommendations from the international evidence-based guideline for the assessment and management of polycystic ovary syndromeFertil Steril.(2018 Aug)
Examine Database References
  1. Inositol - Enrico Papaleo, Vittorio Unfer, Jean-Patrice Baillargeon, Lucia De Santis, Francesco Fusi, Claudio Brigante, Guido Marelli, Ilaria Cino, Anna Redaelli, Augusto FerrariMyo-inositol in patients with polycystic ovary syndrome: a novel method for ovulation inductionGynecol Endocrinol.(2007 Dec)
  2. Inositol - M Nordio, E ProiettiThe combined therapy with myo-inositol and D-chiro-inositol reduces the risk of metabolic disease in PCOS overweight patients compared to myo-inositol supplementation aloneEur Rev Med Pharmacol Sci.(2012 May)
  3. Inositol - Iuorno MJ, Jakubowicz DJ, Baillargeon JP, Dillon P, Gunn RD, Allan G, Nestler JEEffects of d-chiro-inositol in lean women with the polycystic ovary syndromeEndocr Pract.(2002 Nov-Dec)
  4. Inositol - Gerli S, Mignosa M, Di Renzo GCEffects of inositol on ovarian function and metabolic factors in women with PCOS: a randomized double blind placebo-controlled trialEur Rev Med Pharmacol Sci.(2003 Nov-Dec)
  5. Inositol - Donà G, Sabbadin C, Fiore C, Bragadin M, Giorgino FL, Ragazzi E, Clari G, Bordin L, Armanini DInositol administration reduces oxidative stress in erythrocytes of patients with polycystic ovary syndromeEur J Endocrinol.(2012 Apr)
  6. Inositol - Zacchè MM, Caputo L, Filippis S, Zacchè G, Dindelli M, Ferrari AEfficacy of myo-inositol in the treatment of cutaneous disorders in young women with polycystic ovary syndromeGynecol Endocrinol.(2009 Aug)
  7. Inositol - Papaleo E, Unfer V, Baillargeon JP, Fusi F, Occhi F, De Santis LMyo-inositol may improve oocyte quality in intracytoplasmic sperm injection cycles. A prospective, controlled, randomized trialFertil Steril.(2009 May)
  8. Inositol - Raffone E, Rizzo P, Benedetto VInsulin sensitiser agents alone and in co-treatment with r-FSH for ovulation induction in PCOS womenGynecol Endocrinol.(2010 Apr)
  9. Inositol - Costantino D, Minozzi G, Minozzi E, Guaraldi CMetabolic and hormonal effects of myo-inositol in women with polycystic ovary syndrome: a double-blind trialEur Rev Med Pharmacol Sci.(2009 Mar-Apr)
  10. Inositol - Gerli S, Papaleo E, Ferrari A, Di Renzo GCRandomized, double blind placebo-controlled trial: effects of myo-inositol on ovarian function and metabolic factors in women with PCOSEur Rev Med Pharmacol Sci.(2007 Sep-Oct)
  11. Inositol - Unfer V, Carlomagno G, Rizzo P, Raffone E, Roseff SMyo-inositol rather than D-chiro-inositol is able to improve oocyte quality in intracytoplasmic sperm injection cycles. A prospective, controlled, randomized trialEur Rev Med Pharmacol Sci.(2011 Apr)
  12. Inositol - Lisi F, Carfagna P, Oliva MM, Rago R, Lisi R, Poverini R, Manna C, Vaquero E, Caserta D, Raparelli V, Marci R, Moscarini MPretreatment with myo-inositol in non polycystic ovary syndrome patients undergoing multiple follicular stimulation for IVF: a pilot studyReprod Biol Endocrinol.(2012 Jul 23)
  13. Inositol - Genazzani AD, Lanzoni C, Ricchieri F, Jasonni VMMyo-inositol administration positively affects hyperinsulinemia and hormonal parameters in overweight patients with polycystic ovary syndromeGynecol Endocrinol.(2008 Mar)
  14. Inositol - Ciotta L, Stracquadanio M, Pagano I, Carbonaro A, Palumbo M, Gulino FEffects of myo-inositol supplementation on oocyte's quality in PCOS patients: a double blind trialEur Rev Med Pharmacol Sci.(2011 May)