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Welcome to the comprehensive medical library of Joseph N. O’Donnell. The information shared below is provided to you as an educational and informational source only and is not intended to replace a medical examination or consultation, or medical advice given to you by a physician or medical professional.

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What Is Polycystic Ovary Syndrome?S­ndrome del ovario poliqu­stico

What Is Polycystic Ovary Syndrome?

Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) causes harmless cysts in the ovaries and also causes other symptoms. PCOS is caused by certain hormones being out of balance. The word "syndrome" means a group of symptoms. Women with PCOS have no periods, irregular periods, or very long periods.

Cutaway view of ovary

Your Ovaries

A woman's ovaries are where her eggs are stored. Each egg is in a capsule called a follicle. Each month, one follicle grows to produce a mature egg. This egg is released (ovulation) and the follicle dissolves.

Hormones out of Balance

With polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), the chemicals (hormones) that control ovulation are out of balance. These include estrogen, androgen, and lutenizing hor-mone. As a result, ovulation may not occur. Instead, the follicle stays enlarged. This is a cyst (fluid-filled sac). Over time, the ovaries fill with many cysts. This is why they are called "poly" (many) "cystic" ovaries. In some women, the ovaries also make too many male hormones.

PCOS Symptoms

Women with PCOS may also have one or more of these symptoms:

  • Trouble getting pregnant (fertility problems)

  • Weight gain

  • Acne

  • Hair growth on the face and other parts of the body

If it is not treated, PCOS may also increase a woman's risk for breast cancer and cancer of the uterine lining.

Date Last Reviewed: 2004-10-21T00:00:00-06:00

Date Last Modified: 2002-07-09T00:00:00-06:00

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