What is PCOS?

It is an endocrine (hormone) condition that affects at least 1 in 10 women and is diagnosed by irregular or absent periods, polycystic appearing ovaries on ultrasound and/or excess male-hormones. Many women have polycystic ovaries on ultrasound and do not have the “syndrome”, so it is important to clarify your exact diagnosis. Women with true PCOS need careful (and compassionate) care throughout their lifetime as they are at increased risk of several health problems, including diabetes, heart disease, fertility problems, certain cancers, body image problems, depression and anxiety.

What causes PCOS?

No-one knows the cause but there seems to be a genetic component because you are far more likely to have PCOS if your mother or sister has it. Although obesity (being overweight) does not cause PCOS, it can worsen the symptoms, so you may find that if you’ve gained a bit of extra weight, symptoms that never used to be troubling are now significant.

How do you treat it?

There is no cure for PCOS but the symptoms are treatable and the long-term health consequences can be managed and minimised. It is important to maintain a healthy weight and exercise regularly. You should see your GP or gynaecologist on a yearly basis (at least) for a check-up and to discuss your general wellbeing, emotional health, PCOS symptoms and goals of therapy.

Where can I get more information or support?

There is no Australian support website but there is a Facebook group and the US awareness association can be found at pcosaa.org