The Symptoms of PCOS: What is Polycystic Ovary Syndrome?

What is PCOS?

PCOS is a hormonal disorder characterised by irregular menstrual cycles, excess androgen levels, and polycystic ovaries. It affects ovarian function and can lead to various health issues if left untreated. Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) is a common condition that affects many women of reproductive age. Recognizing its symptoms early is key for effective management. There are many symptoms of PCOS, which can make it difficult to diagnose.

Common Symptoms of PCOS

  1. Irregular Periods
    • Infrequent or prolonged menstrual cycles.
  2. Excess Androgen
    • High levels of male hormones causing facial/body hair, severe acne, and hair thinning.
  3. Polycystic Ovaries
    • Enlarged ovaries containing numerous small cysts.
  4. Weight Gain
    • Difficulty losing weight or unexplained weight gain.
  5. Insulin Resistance
    • Increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
  6. Thinning Hair
    • Hair loss on the scalp.
  7. Skin Changes
    • Darkening of the skin, particularly in body folds.
  8. Mood Changes
    • Increased risk of depression and anxiety.

How is PCOS Diagnosed?

PCOS is diagnosed using a combination of clinical evaluations, blood tests to measure hormone levels, and ultrasound imaging to detect cysts on the ovaries. A diagnosis typically requires at least two of the following criteria:

  • Irregular periods
  • Signs of high androgen levels
  • Polycystic ovaries on ultrasound

Is PCOS Genetic?

Yes, PCOS tends to run in families, suggesting a genetic component. If close female relatives have PCOS, you may have a higher risk of developing it.

What are the Four Types of PCOS?

PCOS can present in various forms:

  1. Insulin-resistant PCOS – Linked to obesity and insulin resistance.
  2. Inflammatory PCOS – Characterised by chronic inflammation.
  3. Adrenal PCOS – Linked to excess stress hormones.
  4. Post-pill PCOS – Symptoms that appear after stopping birth control pills.

Can Stress Cause PCOS?

While stress alone does not cause PCOS, it can exacerbate symptoms. Stress affects hormone levels, which can influence the severity of PCOS symptoms.

Does PCOS Make You Tired?

Yes, fatigue is a common symptom. Hormonal imbalances, insulin resistance, and sleep disturbances can contribute to persistent tiredness.

What Things Trigger PCOS?

Factors that can potentially trigger or worsen PCOS include:

  • Genetics: Family history is significant.
  • Lifestyle: Poor diet and lack of exercise can exacerbate symptoms.
  • Stress: High-stress levels can worsen hormonal imbalances.
  • Environmental factors: Exposure to endocrine-disrupting chemicals may impact PCOS development.

Managing PCOS Symptoms

  1. Lifestyle Changes
    • A healthy diet and regular exercise can help manage weight and reduce symptoms.
  2. Medications
    • Birth control pills and Metformin can regulate periods and improve insulin sensitivity.
  3. Hair Removal Treatments
    • Laser hair removal or electrolysis can manage hirsutism.
  4. Fertility Treatments
    • Medications like Clomiphene or Letrozole can assist with ovulation.


What Happens If You Leave PCOS Untreated?

Leaving PCOS untreated can lead to several long-term health issues, including:

  1. Infertility: Irregular ovulation can prevent conception.
  2. Type 2 Diabetes: Increased risk due to insulin resistance.
  3. Heart Disease: Elevated risk due to associated metabolic issues.
  4. Endometrial Cancer: Higher likelihood due to irregular periods and lack of ovulation.
  5. Obesity: Weight gain can exacerbate PCOS symptoms and lead to additional health problems.
  6. Sleep Apnea: Increased risk associated with obesity and hormonal imbalances.

Early diagnosis and management are crucial to prevent these complications. For more information and support, consult a healthcare provider.


PCOS is an increasingly common disorder in women. Recognizing and understanding the symptoms of PCOS is vital for effective management. If you suspect you have PCOS, consult a healthcare provider for a proper diagnosis and treatment plan.

Book an appointment on 0207 838 6180 or by filling out the appointment request form here.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Fill out this field
Fill out this field
Please enter a valid email address.
You need to agree with the terms to proceed

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.