PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome)

Learn important PCOS facts.  Have informed conversations with your clinician.

What is PCOS?
Effecting 1 in 10 women, PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome) is a reproductive hormone imbalance, which creates problems in the ovaries.  While the ovaries should make the egg that is released each month as part of a healthy menstrual cycle, with PCOS, the egg may not develop as it should or it may not be released during ovulation as it should be.
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Diagnosing PCOS
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
Diagnosis and treatment of PCOS remain controversial with challenges defining individual components within the diagnostic criteria, significant clinical heterogeneity generating a range of phenotypes with or without obesity, ethnic differences and variation in clinical features across the life course.
From the International Evidence-Based Guideline for the Assessment and Management of Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) (2018)
 
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What are typical PCOS Symptoms?
TRACK YOUR SYMPTOMS TO HELP YOUR DOCTOR HELP YOU
Acne
Low sex drive
Fatigue
Excessive body hair growth
Irregular periods
Mood changes
Male pattern baldness or thinning hair
Weight changes & trouble losing weight
Trouble conceiving/ infertility
 

Prevalence & Lack of Information 
PCOS Example

PCOS affects 5-10% of women of reproductive age, making it more prevalent than diabetes.  However, it receives less attention.

—  Dr. Marcelle Cedars, Director, Division of Reproductive Endocrinology

UCSF Center for Reproductive Health

PCOS on the Podcast
Listen to the Spotify Podcast Playlist to hear experts speak about PCOS signs, symptoms, and treatment options.

We discuss:

Difference between ovarian cysts and PCOS

What is the main cause of PCOS?

What are the first signs of PCOS?

What is the diagnostic criteria for PCOS?

Can PCOS tests be wrong?

Can birth control cause PCOS?

Is PCOS genetically inherited?

PCOS effects on mental health

What food is best for PCOS?

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How does your doctor diagnose?

EXISTING CRITERIA AT ODDS
1

Rotterdam

The presence of two of the following three findings:

  • high androgens via blood test or symptoms like hirsutism

  • oligo-ovulation or anovulation 

  • polycystic ovaries via ultrasound

plus the exclusion of other diagnoses that could result in hyperandrogenism or ovulatory dysfunction.

2

AE-PCOS*

The presence of all three of the following:

  • high androgens via blood test or symptoms like hirsutism

  • ovarian dysfunction and/or polycystic ovaries

  • the exclusion of other diagnosis resulting in high androgens

*Androgen Excess  & PCOS Society

3

ESHRE / ASRM*

The presence of all three of the following:

  • hyperandrogenism

  • ovulatory dysfunction

  • polycystic ovaries

plus the exclusion of other diagnoses that could result in hyperandrogenism or ovulatory dysfunction.

*European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology/American Society for Reproductive Medicine

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Resources
Check out these curated resources to support you in the diagnosis, management, and treatment of PCOS.
 
 
PCOS:  Why You Can't Do this Alone
Learn from an expert at the PCOS Clinic at University of California San Francisco (UCSF)
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The Team You Need
PCOS is complex.  Build the right team to support you.
(Yes, they should be in one building!)

Doctor

Helps you with a diagnosis and treatment plan

Nutritionist

Ensures you are on a proper diet to manage symptoms

Mental Health Professional

Supports you through the mental health impact many face with PCOS

Dermatologist

Should you suffer from hirsutism, your dermatologist can provide suggestions

 

Take Charge of your PCOS Journey

To increase self-awareness and to help your doctor help you, download the Fempower Health PCOS tracker.
Find an Expert
The PCOS Awareness Association Built a Database to help you Find PCOS Experts
 
What Women We Surveyed Had to Say
How long did it take you to be diagnosed with PCOS?
How long it took to be diagnosed with PC