A common, curable cause of infertility
Fat, hairy, spotty and infertile - polycystic ovarian syndrome sufferers are the Cinderellas of gynaecology. Dr Gillian Lockwood offers remedies that work
What is PCOS and how can I tell if I have it?
One in five of all women have polycystic ovaries, but only a small proportion of these women will suffer from true Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS). Women with PCOS can get fat and spotty and sad, and find it difficult to get pregnant. They sometimes comfort eat, only to find that their doctors tell them it's their fault and they should lose weight.
The good news is that PCOS is the only weight problem that is entirely due to a hormonal imbalance (and not just an inability to stay out of the fridge).
Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) is diagnosed by ultrasound scan of the ovaries and is defined as enlarged ovaries with more than 10 cysts around the edge. Hormone imbalances characteristic of PCOS can lead to irregular periods, brown patches on the skin, obesity, acne and excess facial or body hair growth. In the most severe cases sufferers may experience male-pattern hair loss and voice changes due to excess testosterone.
Most women with polycystic ovaries will not have any significant problems conceiving. A minority will experience delayed conception, a higher miscarriage rate and more complicated pregnancies.
Taking PCOS seriously
Young women with irregular periods often go to the doctor and, without further investigation, are put on the Pill. The resulting regular 'periods' may mask an underlying case of PCOS. This only becomes evident when women come off the Pill to try for a pregnancy, and find that their periods are as infrequent and unpredictable as they were before.