Polycystic Ovary Syndrome FAQ
Answering your top 12 questions about PCOS in detail.
Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), also referred to as polycystic ovarian syndrome, is a condition associated with hormone imbalances that may affect your overall health, appearance, and fertility. It may cause irregular periods, excess body hair, acne, obesity or weight gain, and other symptoms. PCOS affects 6 to 12% of women of childbearing age — that’s as many as 5 million women in the U.S. alone (1, 2).
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Despite how common it is, PCOS is often misdiagnosed. There’s still a lot that we don’t understand about the syndrome, which is why you might go through years of appointments with different doctors before getting an accurate diagnosis (2, 3). Currently, there’s no cure for PCOS, but many people successfully manage their symptoms with a combination of lifestyle changes and medication (4).
Below are the most frequently asked questions about PCOS, plus additional resources that may shine more light on this often-misunderstood condition.
Knowledge fuels the empowered. Read more about PCOS in our blogs below. We do the research so you don't have to.
Gibson-Helm, M., Teede, H., Dunaif, A., & Dokras, A. (2017). Delayed Diagnosis and a Lack of Information Associated With Dissatisfaction in Women With Polycystic Ovary Syndrome. The Journal of clinical endocrinology and metabolism, 102(2), 604–612.
Dennett, C. C., & Simon, J. (2015). The role of polycystic ovary syndrome in reproductive and metabolic health: overview and approaches for treatment. Diabetes spectrum : a publication of the American Diabetes Association, 28(2), 116–120.
Teede, H., Deeks, A., & Moran, L. (2010). Polycystic ovary syndrome: a complex condition with psychological, reproductive and metabolic manifestations that impacts on health across the lifespan. BMC medicine, 8, 41.
Haqq, L., McFarlane, J., Dieberg, G., & Smart, N. (2014). Effect of lifestyle intervention on the reproductive endocrine profile in women with polycystic ovarian syndrome: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Endocrine connections, 3(1), 36–46.
Kataoka, J., Tassone, E. C., Misso, M., Joham, A. E., Stener-Victorin, E., Teede, H., & Moran, L. J. (2017). Weight Management Interventions in Women with and without PCOS: A Systematic Review. Nutrients, 9(9), 996.
Halama, A., Aye, M. M., Dargham, S. R., Kulinski, M., Suhre, K., & Atkin, S. L. (2019). Metabolomics of Dynamic Changes in Insulin Resistance Before and After Exercise in PCOS. Frontiers in endocrinology, 10, 116.
Benham, J. L., Yamamoto, J. M., Friedenreich, C. M., Rabi, D. M., & Sigal, R. J. (2018). Role of exercise training in polycystic ovary syndrome: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Clinical obesity, 8(4), 275–284.
Azziz, R., Carmina, E., Dewailly, D., Diamanti-Kandarakis, E., Escobar-Morreale, H. F., Futterweit, W., Janssen, O. E., Legro, R. S., Norman, R. J., Taylor, A. E., Witchel, S. F., & Task Force on the Phenotype of the Polycystic Ovary Syndrome of The Androgen Excess and PCOS Society (2009). The Androgen Excess and PCOS Society criteria for the polycystic ovary syndrome: the complete task force report. Fertility and sterility, 91(2), 456–488.
Vrbíková, J., Cibula, D., Dvoráková, K., Stanická, S., Sindelka, G., Hill, M., Fanta, M., Vondra, K., & Skrha, J. (2004). Insulin sensitivity in women with polycystic ovary syndrome. The Journal of clinical endocrinology and metabolism, 89(6), 2942–2945.
Salley, K. E., Wickham, E. P., Cheang, K. I., Essah, P. A., Karjane, N. W., & Nestler, J. E. (2007). Glucose intolerance in polycystic ovary syndrome--a position statement of the Androgen Excess Society. The Journal of clinical endocrinology and metabolism, 92(12), 4546–4556.
Jiskoot, G., Dietz de Loos, A., Beerthuizen, A., Timman, R., Busschbach, J., & Laven, J. (2020). Long-term effects of a three-component lifestyle intervention on emotional well-being in women with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS): A secondary analysis of a randomized controlled trial. PloS one, 15(6), e0233876.
Clark, A. M., Ledger, W., Galletly, C., Tomlinson, L., Blaney, F., Wang, X., & Norman, R. J. (1995). Weight loss results in significant improvement in pregnancy and ovulation rates in anovulatory obese women. Human reproduction (Oxford, England), 10(10), 2705–2712.
Apter D. (1998). How possible is the prevention of polycystic ovary syndrome development in adolescent patients with early onset of hyperandrogenism. Journal of endocrinological investigation, 21(9), 613–617.
Lie Fong, S., Douma, A., & Verhaeghe, J. (2020). Implementing the international evidence-based guideline of assessment and management of polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS): how to achieve weight loss in overweight and obese women with PCOS?. Journal of gynecology obstetrics and human reproduction, 101894. Advance online publication.
Lin, A. W., Kazemi, M., Jarrett, B. Y., Vanden Brink, H., Hoeger, K. M., Spandorfer, S. D., & Lujan, M. E. (2019). Dietary and Physical Activity Behaviors in Women with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome per the New International Evidence-Based Guideline. Nutrients, 11(11), 2711.
Lamb, J. D., Johnstone, E. B., Rousseau, J. A., Jones, C. L., Pasch, L. A., Cedars, M. I., & Huddleston, H. G. (2011). Physical activity in women with polycystic ovary syndrome: prevalence, predictors, and positive health associations. American journal of obstetrics and gynecology, 204(4), 352.e1–352.e3526.
Lazaridou S, Dinas K, Tziomalos K. Prevalence, pathogenesis and management of prediabetes and type 2 diabetes mellitus in patients with polycystic ovary syndrome. Hormones (Athens). 2017;16(4):373-380. doi:10.14310/horm.2002.1757
Sim SY, Chin SL, Tan JL, Brown SJ, Cussons AJ, Stuckey BG. Polycystic ovary syndrome in type 2 diabetes: does it predict a more severe phenotype?. Fertil Steril. 2016;106(5):1258-1263. doi:10.1016/j.fertnstert.2016.06.040
Kakoly NS, Khomami MB, Joham AE, et al. Ethnicity, obesity and the prevalence of impaired glucose tolerance and type 2 diabetes in PCOS: a systematic review and meta-regression. Hum Reprod Update. 2018;24(4):455-467. doi:10.1093/humupd/dmy007
Steegers-Theunissen RPM, Wiegel RE, Jansen PW, Laven JSE, Sinclair KD. Polycystic Ovary Syndrome: A Brain Disorder Characterized by Eating Problems Originating during Puberty and Adolescence. Int J Mol Sci. 2020;21(21):8211. Published 2020 Nov 3. doi:10.3390/ijms21218211
Mathes WF, Brownley KA, Mo X, Bulik CM. The biology of binge eating. Appetite. 2009;52(3):545-553. doi:10.1016/j.appet.2009.03.005
Greenwood EA, Pasch LA, Cedars MI, Huddleston HG. Obesity and depression are risk factors for future eating disorder-related attitudes and behaviors in women with polycystic ovary syndrome. Fertil Steril. 2020;113(5):1039-1049. doi:10.1016/j.fertnstert.2020.01.016
Thannickal A, Brutocao C, Alsawas M, et al. Eating, sleeping and sexual function disorders in women with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS): A systematic review and meta-analysis. Clin Endocrinol (Oxf). 2020;92(4):338-349. doi:10.1111/cen.14153