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Dr. Sagarika Mukherjee

Consultant - Endocrinology-Diabetes, Thyroid Disorders,Pituitary & Adrenal problems, Growth Disorders, PCOD, Gestational Diabetes, Cholesterol Disorders, Obesity and Metabolic Medicine.

Manipal Hospitals, Salt Lake

Beyond Missed Periods: Unveiling The Spectrum Of PCOS Symptoms

Posted On: Feb 08, 2024

blogs read 4 Min Read

Potential Symptoms of PCOS

Polycystic ovary syndrome or PCOS is a common hormonal condition affecting 1 in 10 women of childbearing age. While often characterised by irregular periods, PCOS presents a diverse spectrum of symptoms, making diagnosis and management a nuanced puzzle. PCOS is a serious medical condition and it requires proper medical attention or surgical treatment. Let's delve into the multifaceted world of PCOS symptoms and treatment, understanding how they manifest and the impact they have on women's lives.


Understanding PCOS?

PCOS is a hormonal imbalance that disrupts the normal functioning of the ovaries and the menstrual cycle. It's characterized by the presence of multiple small fluid-filled sacs (follicles) in the ovaries that fail to mature and release eggs which is known as ovulation. This hormonal imbalance can also lead to excess production of male hormones called androgens by the ovaries and adrenal glands.

What are the Causes of PCOS?

The exact cause of PCOS is unknown, but it's believed to be a combination of many factors, they are discussed below:

  • Genetics

Genetics play a role in how your body regulates insulin and hormones. Environmental factors like obesity and insulin resistance can also contribute to the development of PCOS. According to some research, heredity is one of the reasons that contributes to PCOS as some genes could be responsible for to development of the condition.

  • Insulin

Insulin is produced by the pancreas and it is considered the primary energy supplier of the body. However, due to the excessive production of insulin in the body, the blood sugar level rises rapidly, resulting in difficulties in ovulation. 

  • Low-grade inflammation

A recent study revealed that female with PCOS develops a type of low-grade inflammation that increases androgen production.

Types of PCOS

There are no distinct types of PCOS, but the presentation of symptoms can vary. Some women may experience primarily menstrual irregularities, while others may have more prominent metabolic or androgenic symptoms.

What are the Potential Symptoms of PCOS?

The symptoms of PCOS can vary widely from woman to woman and can also change over time. Here are some of the most common symptoms:

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  • Menstrual Irregularities - This is the most common symptom and can manifest as infrequent or absent periods, heavy and prolonged bleeding, or irregular cycles.

  • Ovulation Problems - Difficulty or inability to ovulate can lead to infertility.

  • Excess Androgen Levels - This can lead to hirsutism (excessive hair growth on the face, chest, back, and abdomen), acne, male-pattern baldness, and oily skin.

  • Insulin resistance and Prediabetes/type 2 Diabetes - PCOS can affect how your body uses insulin, leading to an increased risk of these conditions.

  • Weight Gain and Difficulty Losing Weight - This can be due to insulin resistance and hormonal changes.

  • Skin Changes - Skin tags, acanthosis Nigerians (darkening and thickening skin), and seborrheic keratosis (wart-like growths) can occur.

  • Sleep Apnea - Obstructive sleep apnea is more common in women with PCOS.

  • Mental Health Concerns - PCOS can be associated with anxiety, depression, and mood swings.

  • Other Health Concerns - Women with PCOS are more likely to have skin problems, abnormal facial hair growth, high blood pressure and high cholesterol. 

Risk Factors for PCOS

  • Family history of PCOS
  • Obesity
  • Certain medical conditions like prediabetes or type 2 diabetes, insulin resistance, and adrenal disorders
  • Ethnicity (PCOS is more common in women of Hispanic and certain Asian ethnicities)

Treatments for PCOS

There is no cure for PCOS, but there are treatments available to manage the symptoms and improve overall health. The treatment plans are tailored to meet the unique needs of each individual and may consist of various approaches:

  • Lifestyle modifications - Diet and exercise are key to managing weight, insulin resistance, and overall health.

  • Medications - Medications can be used to regulate hormones, manage insulin resistance, and treat specific symptoms like acne or hirsutism.

  • Ovulation induction - Medications can be used to help women with PCOS ovulate and improve their chances of getting pregnant.

  • Surgery - In rare cases, surgery may be recommended to remove ovarian cysts or treat severe androgen excess.

PCOS can be a challenging condition for every woman who is fighting against it. Therefore, it's important to understand the condition, know the causes and modify or make some lifestyle changes if at the risk of it. With the proper knowledge and guidance women with PCOS can lead fulfilling lives. Early diagnosis, proper management, and a supportive network are key to navigating the complexities of PCOS and living well with the condition. You can refer to Manipal Hospitals, Saltlake for any further guidance on PCOS.


Yes, many women with PCOS can get pregnant. However, it may take longer than usual due to ovulation issues. PCOS symptoms and treatment options like ovulation induction medication can help.

PCOS can make it harder to lose weight or maintain a healthy weight due to hormonal imbalances and insulin resistance. However, healthy diet and exercise can help manage weight and improve PCOS symptoms.

Yes, PCOS can increase the risk of type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, cholesterol issues, sleep apnea, and some mental health conditions. Early diagnosis and management can help mitigate these risks.

PCOS treatment plans are individualised and may include lifestyle modifications (diet, exercise), medication (hormone regulation, insulin sensitizers), ovulation induction for pregnancy, and managing associated conditions.

Absolutely! Women with PCOS symptoms can lead fulfilling lives by managing their symptoms through treatment, maintaining a healthy lifestyle, and seeking support.

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