Symptoms of Polycystic Ovary Syndrome

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Endocrinologist discusses symptoms of PCOS.

Endocrinologist discusses symptoms of PCOS.

Video transcript

Featuring Dr. Sabrina Gill, MD, MPH, FRCPC

Duration: 2 minutes, 3 seconds

Polycystic ovary syndrome can present at any time in a woman's life.  

It can start as early premature puberty or can present later in life as infertility or even in post-menopausal women with problems with diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

The most common symptoms of polycystic ovary syndrome are first irregular periods and this can be variable in different people. Some can be just having periods every few months to not having any periods at all and that of course can lead to infertility.  

Women can also have symptoms of excess testosterone so those can vary to increase in oil production or sweat production to acne, to inappropriate dark, thick coarse hair growth in areas such as the face, the neck, the chest, abdomen, back, upper arms, upper legs, places where you wouldn’t expect hair growth.  

You can have hair thinning on the scalp, either at the temples or even on the top part of the head. And you can also present with weight gain. Weight gain is not actually a symptom of polycystic ovary syndrome, but weight gain does make the symptoms worse.  And the association there is that when you gain weight, you produce an increased amount of hormone called insulin.  

Now insulin's a hormone that's mainly responsible for controlling our sugars and helping us utilize those sugars into energy but when our body becomes resistant to it, we tend to make more of it and that hormone, that insulin hormone, can then stimulate other areas of the body including the ovary making more testosterone so when you gain weight, your insulin levels are higher and therefore you have more symptoms. But there are a number of women that are lean that also have polycystic ovary syndrome.  

With weight gain, it puts you at risk of diabetes, puts you at risk of sleep apnea and potentially even heart disease in the future so it's important that if you have any of these symptoms to see your physician and get yourself evaluated.

Presenter: Dr. Sabrina Gill, Endocrinologist, Vancouver, BC

Local Practitioners: Endocrinologist

This content is for informational purposes only, and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare professional with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

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