Symptoms of Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS)

Polycystic ovarian syndrome doesn't just affect your reproductive health. It can also have emotional effects and cause issues in the cardiovascular system. Learn more in this article!
Symptoms of Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS)

Last update: 10 December, 2018

For reasons that aren’t quite clear yet, a woman can begin experiencing hormonal changes that eventually lead to what we now know as polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), which has some symptoms worth knowing.

This gynecological condition also goes by the name Stein-Leventhal syndrome, and affects between 5-10% of reproductive age women. Its symptoms can affect your life in several different ways. One of the most complicated and delicate problems is that it can make it harder to get pregnant.

It’s also common to have to follow a weight loss program and take oral contraceptives to control the hormonal issues associated with polycystic ovarian syndrome.

Today we want to dig a little deeper into the subject and focus on some of the secondary symptoms. We’re talking about the signs that aren’t as well known, but could be an indication you have this syndrome.

Symptoms associated with polycystic ovarian syndrome

If you have diabetes, are obese, or have menstrual cycle irregularities, it doesn’t automatically mean that you’re going to develop this disorder.

  • Several of these symptoms have to appear in a group.
  • You might get a feeling that something “isn’t right” in your body, that something has changed.
  • You shouldn’t see each of these as isolated symptoms.
  • All of them could be a sign that you have polycystic ovarian syndrome.

But remember, it’s always best to see a gynecologist if you have any questions and get a simple exam.

Insulin resistance

insulin resistance

Insulin resistance, or hyperinsulinemia, comes from a metabolic defect that makes your body unable to use this hormone efficiently.

  • When you experience a hormonal change, it’s common for there to also be changes in insulin and its production in the pancreas.
  • Little by little, an excess of glucose is produced in your body, which can lead to type 2 diabetes.

Excessive body hair

Hirsutism, or excessive body hair, is one of the most common secondary symptoms of polycystic ovarian syndrome.

This can happen on your:

  • Face (mustache area, temples, chin, etc.)
  • Neck
  • Back
  • Chest
  • Bottom

This growth happens in areas where men traditionally grow hair, due to excess androgens being produced in a woman’s body.

But there are lots of different causes for this. You should see your doctor to rule out whether this is a symptom of PCOS or something else.

Balding or abnormal hair loss

Androgenic alopecia is one of the clear potential symptoms of polycystic ovarian syndrome. Again, hormonal changes are the cause, but proper medical treatment can stop hair loss and recuperate hair health.

Depression, anxiety, stress

One of the main problems that occurs when depression is diagnosed is that the underlying cause is not known.

  • Don’t forget that many of your emotional problems tend to have a hormonal origin, which can be easily treated with medication.
  • The hormonal issues associated with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) lead to internal dysfunction.
  • Your body produces too much cortisol because of the insulin resistance.
  • Cortisol is a hormone associated with stress, the feeling of anxiety that takes over you and brings down your quality of life.
  • Little by little, that can lead into depression.

So remember: when you’re feeling overcome by your emotions, seek help from a doctor. Ask your doctor for a blood test to find out if it’s due to hormonal changes.

Elevated blood pressure and cholesterol

The most complicated thing about polycystic ovarian syndrome is that it can cause serious problems in women, sometimes from a very young age.

  • Girls just over 20 can suffer from weight problems, diabetes, hypertension, and high cholesterol.
  • All of these characteristics increase the risk of heart attacks or stroke at an early age.
  • The metabolic changes associated with the hormonal issues can cause changes in cholesterol. For example, good cholesterol (HDL) might go down and bad cholesterol (LDL) might go up.
  • It’s also common for blood triglyceride levels to increase. This can cause your arteries to lose elasticity and lead to arteriosclerosis.

The last thing we want to point out is that the clearest symptoms of polycystic ovarian syndrome are irregular periods, difficulty conceiving, and excess weight.

You should always seek a proper diagnosis and the right treatment for you. 

A healthy diet, exercise, reducing stress, and getting regular medical exams all can help bring back your quality of life.

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