There are a host of symptoms, and probably most women with PCOS don't exhibit all of them.
Like any "syndrome", the condition isn't a disease, in and of itself, but rather a constellation of symptoms that, when put together, is diagnosed as PCOS.
The most basic aspect of PCOS is cystic ovaries. The typical consequence is anovulation and irregular periods. That's what typically brings women to the doctor to determine the cause.
The greater production of androgens can cause some women to have a more boyish appearance with smaller breasts, oily skin, large pores, acne, and excess body hair growth.
Insulin resistance is another aspect of PCOS, which typically results in weight gain, while simultaneously making weight lss extremely difficult.
I'm nearing menopause, so this is my PCOS story...
I was diagnosed in my 20s, via anecdotal reports, ultrasound, and blood tests. My doctor assured me that having PCOS didn't automatically mean I couldn't have children. In his words, "One of my PCOS patients gets pregnant every time her husband touches her." in my case, I never wanted children, so I was quite happy to have fewer periods.
Oh, I should point out I had maybe 1-3 periods per year, nearly my whole life.
I do have oily skin and large pores. But a good diet, regular exercise, and a good skin care regimen have kept acne at-bay.
I have a very womanly figure, including 30G breasts. I am also practically hairless, save lots of healthy, shiny head hair.
I haven't escaped unscathed, though. Around age 40, the insulin resistance kicked-in...hard. I, naturally, had a BMI of 17 from age 16 'til my 30s. All of a sudden, I started gaining weight, and had no idea why. Funny enough, at the same time, my periods became regular (monthly). Go figure. In any event, it wasn't until I typed something like, "exercising like crazy, starving myself, still gaining weight" into a search engine, that I had the "ah ha" moment where I was reminded about the insulin resistance aspect of PCOS. As I mentioned, I really only had irregular periods, and had been super-thin my whole life, to that point. So, I treated my IR with a cinnamon supplement (yes...it's a real treatment), and began losing weight that day. I've lost 30lbs and kept it off for the past year, where diet & exercise, alone, did nothing.
I have been on metformin almost 3 months. They usually start you on a low dosage (right now I atm taking 500 mg) When i first started taking it, it was WONDERFUL.. Energy, no need to eat all the time, my period was AMAZING and not heavy, i barely cramped.. no cysts. I loved it in all honesty! But now I think I need my dosage changed and increased because my period is really heavy. My husband and I are also TTC. I am only 20 and was recently diagnosed with PCOS. I would get cysts to the point I couldnt move because it hurt so bad... the ER would shove me out the door with pain pills and didnt even test me.. found out months later that I had cysts from an ultrasound I had to INSIST on getting. You do need to diet, exercise and take the medication for it to help. Some women get bad symptoms of nausea, diarrhea and hair coming out. My hair came out in the shower a lot but nothing severe... and I did get nauseous so I wouldn't eat as much but it went away as well... I had a bit of Diarrhea but you can take some pepto and be fine. Your body gets used to it, oh also my hair does get more oily faster.. I hate that part!!! I ALWAYS have to shower to keep my hair clean! Like instead of every other day; every day!
I was being tested for cushings disease wqhen they found the PCOS diagnosis. My symptoms are:
Mood swings, oily skin, greasy hair ( have to wash it every single day) acne (now gone), irregular periods, I struggled to concieve at first, excessive weight gain for no reason, thin hair , body hair growth.
You can have PCOS without the cysts on ovaries.
If you have PCOS you have high risk of diabetes. If pregnant with pcos you will most likely develop gestational diabetes (had with both pregnancies now)
So it's important to make lifestyle changes asap and stick at them. For me this is a no sugar, low carb diet *trying gluten free in the newyear* Some people get prescribed metformin to help with weight, hair growth , regulating cycles. Exercise as much as possible. etc. Good luck!
The name "polycystic ovarian syndrome" sems to be somewhat misunderstood. The "polycystic" aspect refers to the multiple ("poly") mini-cyst-like feature of the outer ovary, which, due to this defacto thickening of the tissue, can prevent an ovum from erupting from the ovary.
I have had PCOS my whole life, but have never had a singular cyst on one of my ovaries, of the sort that is large enough to be palpated, or cause pain. In other words, I have polycystic ovarian syndrome, but have never had an ovarian cyst, per se.
Women who don't have PCOS can develop ovarian cysts.
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