Most women think of polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) only when they are having menstrual problems or when they are not able to conceive. But many symptoms can become discernible even when you are in your late teens to early twenties. Symptoms vary from patient to patient. Some have mild symptoms whereas some may have severe and all symptoms. Some with PCOS do not exhibit any of the routine symptoms except enlarged ovaries.
While the prime characteristic of PCOS is enlarged ovaries with innumerable small harmless cysts, gynecological and endocrinal problems, there are also physical characteristics of PCOS – like
- Acne, oily skin, dandruff-prone hair.
- Rapid weight gain, inability to lose weight
- Obesity – especially upper body obesity – excess weight around abdomen
- Hirsutism – excess facial hair and body hair – thick and coarse hair on upper-lip, under chin, arms, legs and stomach.
- Male pattern baldness with thinning hair and hair loss from scalp.
- Skin tags.
Menstrual periods that can be
- Scanty or Heavy.
- Infrequent or too frequent.
- No periods.
- Problems in carrying pregnancy.
- No ovulation or irregular ovulation.
Depression and mood swings
- PCOS interferes with sexual satisfaction and overall life quality, and affects your sense of well-being.
- Hirsuitism, acne and obesity can cause social isolation and low self-confidence.
Sometimes PCOS symptoms can develop over time and gradually before a proper diagnosis and treatment plan is established. Without realizing they have PCOS, women undergo
Repeat pregnancy miscarriages (not able to carry to full term). These can be linked to
- Quality of egg produced.
- Inability of egg to attach to uterus.
- Ovulation timing, delays.
- High level of insulin and insulin resistance.
Inability to conceive
- Because of ovary not releasing an egg.
- Irregular ovulation.
- Weight gain around abdomen and in the upper body due to increased androgen levels.
- Some show breathlessness while sleeping due to obesity and insulin resistance.
Other symptoms like a deeper voice, worsening acne, dark skin markings where you have skin folds like neck, armpits etc and decrease in breast size can happen progressively and over time.
Many women do not have all the symptoms. Symptoms can start early – immediately on puberty or can likely start gradually and progressively and are more noticeable due to weight gain which leads to further complications.