Polycystic Ovary Syndrome Symptoms
Part of the problem when it comes to diagnosing PCOS is that many of the most common symptoms of the disorder do not seem to be related to one another, at least initially. In addition to menstrual problems, women with PCOS may suffer from acne, excessive hair growth, loss of hair, infertility, and weight gain. Of course, every woman is different; while one woman with PCOS may experience all of these symptoms, another may experience just acne and irregular periods. Getting a better understanding of just what the symptoms of PCOS may be will help you recognize whether you yourself suffer from it. Also check out our overview of PCOS.
PCOS often comes to light during puberty due to period problems, which affects around 75% of those with the disease. Infrequent, irregular or absent periods are all common variations, many finding their periods particularly heavy when they do arrive. The period disturbance is a sign that there is a problem with regular monthly ovulation. So just why do your periods go out of whack when you suffer from PCOS? The main culprit is hormonal imbalance.
In women without polycystic ovarian syndrome, the ovaries begin to develop 20 eggs every month. These eggs mature in little sacs known as cysts. Over the course of the month, one egg will become dominant and draw most of the hormones being produced, eventually being released by the ovary to be fertilized or shed with your period. Women with PCOS, though, fail to produce the correct balance of estrogen necessary to help one egg become dominant. As a result, the 20 eggs develop but remain as cysts, which in turn results in the production of androgens, or male hormones, and little to no production of progesterone.
Because of the build up of androgens and lack of progesterone, women with PCOS may have irregular periods, fail to ovulate (anovulation), or fail to have a period (amenorrhea) entirely. When a period does occur, many women with PCOS note that their bleeding can be quite heavy. Those women dealing with irregular or heavy periods due to PCOS can use the birth control pill to help regulate their menstrual cycle.
Many teenagers use the contraceptive pill to control their periods as irregularity or heaviness is a common complaint at this time, even in the absence of PCOS. This often leads to a delay in the diagnosis of PCOS, many not presenting until the birth control pill is stopped and finding periods cease or become irregular.