PCOS is one of the most common conditions women face and it affects almost 10% of women. And while that many women experience it, symptoms are still hard to recognize. We’re bringing you the 10 most common symptoms of PCOS, ranging from late periods to hair loss.
Late or irregular periods
Late and irregular periods are one of the most common symptoms of PCOS. As it is caused by hormonal disbalance and an excess of androgens, they are the first sign that something may be out of the ordinary. Many women experience it at least once in their lives and wonder “Why is my period late”. According to Mayo Clinic’s PCOS guidelines, if you have fewer than nine periods a year, more than 35 days between periods, and abnormally heavy periods, you might have polycystic ovaries!
Always make sure to consult with your doctor!
Excessive and unwanted hair growing on your face is a condition called hirsutism. It’s characterized by stronger, darker hair follicles in areas of the face where men usually have a beard.
Higher-than-normal levels of androgens (male hormones), such as testosterone, cause women to grow excessive body or facial hair. Androgens are produced by all women, but their levels are usually low. A woman’s body may contain too many androgens as a result of PCOS. Male-pattern hair growth and other male features, such as a deep voice, may come as a result of this.
Ovaries that have cysts
As the name suggests, the polycystic ovarian syndrome is characterized by cysts in the ovaries. Cysts in or on the ovaries are fluid-filled sacs that can appear due to hormonal changes, pregnancy, or disorders like endometriosis and PCOS. They can be diagnosed during a routine yearly exam using an ultrasound. While they don’t cause problems per se, it’s important to monitor them to avoid any complications.
PCOS makes it harder for the body to use the hormone insulin, which is responsible for converting sugars and starches from food into energy. Insulin resistance is a disease that causes insulin and sugar (glucose) to build up in the bloodstream.
Experts think weight gain also helps trigger PCOS symptoms, such as menstrual abnormalities and acne.
High insulin levels in the blood are responsible for the overproduction of androgens (male hormones). As a result of high androgen levels, you can begin to experience increased weight gain, body hair development, acne, irregular cycles, etc. Since male hormones cause weight gain, it usually occurs in the abdomen as men tend to bear their weight in this area. As a result, rather than having a pear shape, women with PCOS can have an apple-shaped body type.
Acne & oily skin
Acne and oily skin are one of the common problems many women with PCOS experience. While they’re not exclusive to them, due to hormonal changes that come with PCOS, it is not unusual for women with this problem to experience acne and oily skin.
This can usually be treated with a change in the skincare routine or by prescribing specialized treatment. Niacinamide is one of the best ingredients to incorporate into your routine if you’re experiencing oiliness!
PCOS is one of the most common causes of infertility in women, but the good news is that it is treatable. The hormonal imbalance in women with PCOS prevents the ovaries from producing and releasing eggs (ovulation). As it is not possible to get pregnant if you’re not ovulating, the first step to starting your fertility journey is to work on achieving regular ovulations. Your doctor will discuss ways to help you ovulate and increase your chances of pregnancy!
Darkening of the skin
While skin discoloration is not a direct symbol of PCOS, it is a relevant indicator for this condition. Acanthosis nigricans can develop in women with PCOS who develop insulin resistance (a precursor to diabetes).
Most often, it is present in the underarm and collar areas, where it appears as a darkening of the skin with a black or purplish velvet texture. Any skin discoloration should be checked out by a doctor. If acanthosis nigricans is discovered, the next steps consist of a scan for diabetes or early signs of insulin resistance.
Sleep disturbances seem to be more common in women with polycystic ovary syndrome than in other women, according to studies. Since some women with PCOS have heavy cycles, it’s possible that they’ll develop iron deficiency anemia which can result in dizziness, fatigue, and lightheadedness. Researchers have also discovered a connection between PCOS and thyroid disorders, most notably due to the connections between both conditions— insulin resistance and cysts on ovaries.
During their menstrual cycle, women with PCOS can experience heavier bleeding. Menorrhagia is the medical term for this condition, which is caused by low progesterone levels linked to PCOS. Menorrhagia is characterized by heavy bleeding that lasts at least seven days.
If you’re experiencing heavy periods, make sure to consult with your doctor to find the cause behind them.
One of the most important characteristics of PCOS is the excess of male hormones (androgens) in the body. In women, these hormones don’t only wreak havoc on the reproductive system but can cause various visible symptoms. When their levels are high, they can interfere with the normal life cycle of hair follicles, making them weaker and resulting in hair thinning or hair loss. This is known as androgenic alopecia or female pattern hair loss. PCOS hair loss can be treated with at-home treatments or doctor’s prescriptions!
There are many symptoms of polycystic ovarian syndrome ranging from hair loss or excessive hair growth to late or lost periods. They happen due to hormonal imbalance and overproduction of male hormones (androgen) and can cause an array of issues in women. If left untreated, PCOS can cause infertility, acne and has an effect on your insulin regulation.