About 5 to 10% of all women suffer from Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS). PCOS is an endocrine disorder in which the ovaries don’t function as they should. Hormone levels in the body are out of balance, as the ovaries produce more androgen than normal. This disturbs the development of the follicles and the release of eggs, and leads to multiple (poly) fluid-filled sacs (cysts) piling up in the ovaries. The result of this? An irregular ovulation or an ovulation stop, which of course leads to irregular periods or a menstruation stop. An extremely heavy flow is also possible.
Most common cause of female infertility
The short term consequences of PCOS are clear: an irregular ovulation or ovulation stop means less chances of getting pregnant. A lot of women only discover that something is wrong when they stop taking the contraceptive pill and try to get pregnant. In fact, PCOS is the most common cause of female infertility. In young women, excess facial or body hair (due to the high level of androgen) or acne is often a reason for their GP to refer them to a gynaecologist. Another symptom of PCOS is weight gain.
PCOS Awareness Month
Many women still don’t know about this condition. The USA-based PCOS Awareness Organisation wants to change that, by increasing public knowledge and understanding about this endocrine disorder. In the UK, there’s Verity, a self-help group for women with PCOS, whereas in the Netherlands PCOS Nederland wants to raise more awareness.
September is PCOS Awareness Month, which means all around the world events are organised. The exact cause of PCOS is still unknown and there’s no cure for it yet, although the symptoms can be treated.