Polycystic ovary syndrome is a condition in which a woman’s hormones are out of balance, leading to possible problems with the menstrual cycle and fertility, as PCOS can cause a woman to stop ovulating. If left unattended, PCOS can also lead to serious problems such as diabetes and heart disease.
Women who experience irregular cycles are smart to discuss this with their doctor, as early diagnosis and treatment can help control the condition and prevent long-term problems.
Aside from irregular menstrual cycles, PCOS can also cause the following symptoms / problems:
- Extra facial and body hair
- Thinning hair on the scalp
- Weight gain or trouble losing weight
- Insulin resistance and elevated blood sugar levels
- An increased risk for diabetes
Because some of the symptoms associated with PCOS are so varied – such as thinning hair and irregular periods – patients may not report all symptoms, and as a result, the condition can be overlooked.
Irregular periods shouldn’t automatically lead to a diagnosis of PCOS, but the condition is certainly a leading cause. According to Fertility Centers of New England, USA, “The truth is that there are many causes of irregular periods, but PCOS is the most common cause. Over 50% of women with irregular periods have PCOS.”
A blood test can help identify the cause of infrequent or irregular periods for a particular woman. Other causes include hypothyroidism, elevated prolactin levels and pregnancy.
Whatever the cause, an experienced fertility specialist can help a patient pinpoint the cause of irregular menstrual cycles and determine the impact it will have on her fertility.