Polycystic Ovary Syndrome or PCOS is a common condition in women which alters the hormone levels in their body. Patients with PCOS have abnormally high amounts of male hormones in their bodies. This hormonal imbalance then leads to irregular menstrual periods and makes it difficult for them to become pregnant.

It is seen that PCOS can also cause excessive hair growth in women and can even lead to baldness in some cases. Apart from that, PCOS can lead to many long-term health problems such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease. Below is a quick look at the common symptoms of the syndrome as well as the severe complications it can lead to.

Common Symptoms of PCOS

Most women with PCOS develop symptoms of the condition as soon as their menstrual cycle starts. In some cases, women notice the symptoms only when it leads to too much weight gain or when they fail to get pregnant. It is important that you visit the nearest low-income health clinic if you feel that you may have any of these symptoms. With that in mind, women who have this condition can expect to experience the below symptoms:

  • Irregular Periods: This happens due to the lack of ovulation which prevents the shedding of the uterine lining normally every month.
  • Heavy Bleeding: This happens because the uterine lining stays intact for a long time, making periods much heavier than normal.
  • Hirsutism or Excessive Hair Growth: This happens as a result of the excess amount of male hormones in the body which can lead to excessive hair growth on the face, belly, back, and chest.
  • Acne: This happens because male hormones make the skin oilier than normal and lead to breakouts on the face, neck, chest, and upper back.

Apart from these symptoms women with PCOS also experience skin darkening on the neck, groin, and below the breasts. Also, around 80% of women with the condition will become overweight or obese. You can ask for more information at your nearest low-income women’s health clinic on PCOS and treatment options.

Complications of PCOS

Polycystic Ovary Syndrome can lead to many serious complications due to the hormonal imbalance in the body. Some of the major health problems caused by PCOS include:

  • Infertility – Women with the condition do not ovulate regularly, which can cause infertility.
  • Metabolic Syndrome – As PCOS leads to obesity it can heighten the risks of high blood pressure, high blood sugar, and high LDL cholesterol. These metabolic issues can, in turn, increase the risk of heart diseases and stroke.
  • Sleep Apnea – Obesity in women caused due to the hormonal imbalance also leads to snoring and sleep apnea. Studies say that the risk of sleep disorders is around 10 times higher in women with PCOS.
  • Endometrial Cancer – The thickening of the uterine lining due to irregular periods can increase the risk of endometrial cancer.

Depression – Hormonal changes, as well as symptoms like excess hair growth, can lead to depression and anxiety.

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    About the Author

    Dr. Ghassan M. Al-Jazayrly, MD

    A graduate of University of Aleppo Faculty of Medicine, Dr. Al-Jazayrly or, as he is colloquially known: Dr. AJ, is an oncologist and hematologist of a Complete Care Community Health Center (CCCHC) with more than 36 years of experience. In recent years, he’s been involved with a non profit organization known as Every Woman Counts (EWC) which provides free breast and cervical cancer screening and diagnostic services to California’s underserved populations in order to eliminate health disparities for low-income individuals.

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