PCOS Symptoms

Last Updated: March 17 2022

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

Summary

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

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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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