Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) is a relatively common hormonal disorder in women that causes irregular or absent ovulation, cysts in the ovaries, infertility and other health problems.

The ovaries of women with PCOS typically develop numerous small cystic follicles which do not develop properly. They have chronically elevated levels of androgens (male hormones) and resistance to insulin. They typically have hirsutism (excess body hair), are overweight (thin women can have PCOS), have a greater chance of developing diabetes, and have a “pear shaped” body.

Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome Diagnosis

Patients with suspected PCOS should be seen by a reproductive endocrinologist as this is a complex disease with many treatments. PCOS is often misdiagnosed unless a complete infertility evaluation is performed.

Typical blood tests include an follicle stimulating hormone (FSH), leutinizing hormone (LH), prolactin, thyroid hormone, and fasting glucose and insulin level.

Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome Treatment

Weight reduction will sometimes restore ovulation in obese patients; however, it is very difficult for PCOS patients to lose weight. If body weight is reduced, it is also difficult to maintain due to a variety of reasons.

While the best diet has not been determined, a low carbohydrate approach works well with many of these patients. Women who are interested in weight loss should discuss these issues with a reputable organization or talk with a nutritionist.

Medications, such as Clomid or Glucophage (metformin), are often the best treatments.