Polycystic ovary syndrome

PCOS

A condition affecting the normal function of the ovaries

What is PCOS?

Having polycystic ovaries (PCO) identified in an ultrasound scan does not mean you have polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS). A polycystic ovary is just the description of how the ovary appears on the ultrasound scan. Polycystic ovaries contain a number of harmless follicles. They're not actually cysts but sacs in which your eggs should develop. However, as they haven't formed properly, they can't release an egg and ovulation may not happen as usual.

Women with polycystic ovaries will have additional symptoms like irregular periods or excess hair growth on face/chest/back/legs or may have excessive hair loss/acne. They are likely having the hormonal imbalance, which is causing these symptoms and are having the polycystic ovarian syndrome. In some women the symptoms can be mild, while in some they can be quite severe.

Need to know

  • Symptoms of PCOS icon plus

    There are three key symptoms associated with polycystic ovary syndrome:

    • your ovaries may be enlarged and contain more than 12 fluid-filled sacs
    • your hormones may be out of balance
    • you may not ovulate every month

    In addition to these, you may also experience:

    • difficulty becoming pregnant
    • recurrent miscarriage
    • depression
    • rapid weight gain
    • difficulty losing weight
    • oily skin or acne
    • unwanted hair on your face or body

    In a large number of cases, there are no symptoms at all.

  • Diagnosis icon plus

    If you have two out of three of the main symptoms above, you may have PCOS. We'll measure your hormone levels via a blood test and we may recommend you have an ultrasound of your ovaries which would confirm a diagnosis of PCOS.
  • Potential treatment options icon plus

    There's no way of reversing the formation of these cysts, but if you’re diagnosed with PCOS, it's important that you have treatment to control your symptoms. This is particularly the case if the symptoms are severe and cause concern, or if infertility becomes an issue. We have a multidisciplinary team who can offer complementary therapies and nutritional advice as part of a tailored plan to suit your needs.

Trying to conceive with PCOS

Most women with polycystic ovaries have regular periods every month and they are ovulating. Polycystic ovaries have lots of follicles. Follicles are the egg bags, each of which contain an egg. Women with polycystic ovaries have lots of eggs and considered as having high ovarian reserve.

Some women with polycystic ovaries will have additional symptoms like irregular periods or excess hair growth on face/chest/back/legs or may have excessive hair loss/acne. They are likely having the hormonal imbalance, which is causing these symptoms and are having the polycystic ovarian syndrome. In some women the symptoms can be mild, while in some they can be quite severe. Having irregular periods mean that you are not ovulating consistently and that might lead to difficulty in falling pregnant.

If you have been diagnosed with PCOS and are having difficulty in falling pregnant, you can see your GP or a fertility doctor to have any issues investigated.

Our gynaecology consultants

Gynaecologists at HCA UK specialise in a wide range of gynaecological conditions and specialise in the diagnosing, managing and treating problems of the women's reproductive system.

Our locations

From complex gynaecological surgery to diagnostic tests, scans and procedures, we provide exceptional women's healthcare across our network of hospitals, outpatient centres and specialist clinics.

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This content is intended for general information only and does not replace the need for personal advice from a qualified health professional.
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