Many women have a condition known as polycystic ovary syndrome, otherwise known as PCOS, without even knowing it. Often, candidates with PCOS have irregular periods, facial hair, and acne, especially on the chin, lips, and flanks.

It is the result of a hormonal imbalance, and often – but not always – PCOS causes cysts on the ovaries.

Although these cysts are harmless, they can cause hormonal imbalances that can lead to infrequent or prolonged periods, excessive hair growth, acne, and obesity. Early diagnosis of PCOS is also important to prevent long-term complications such as type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

What causes PCOS?

Doctors don’t know exactly what causes polycystic ovary syndrome, but there are several theories about risk factors.

  • Excess insulin: Too much insulin can increase the production of androgens (male hormones) and adversely affect the functioning of the ovaries, which can interfere with the proper ovulation of the ovaries.
  • Mild inflammation: Studies have shown that women with PCOS have mild inflammation, which can cause polycystic ovaries to produce androgens.
  • Heredity: PCOS can run in families, so if your mother or sister has it, you are more likely to have it too.

Although the symptoms of polycystic ovary syndrome begin shortly after a woman starts menstruating, PCOS can also develop in her later reproductive years. There are many signs to watch out for; However, individuals may be affected differently, and symptoms may worsen with obesity.

The Mayo Clinic and WebMD say to watch out for the following symptoms:

  1. Irregular menstruation
    This is one of the most common symptoms of PCOS. Some examples include cycles of 35 days or more, fewer than 8 periods per year, long or heavy periods, and no periods for four months or more.
  2. Excess facial and body hair
    You may notice hair growing on your chin, chest, back, stomach, and even your toes.
  3. Mood
    You may feel depressed and have mood swings.

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