Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Answers to Commonly Asked Questions for In-Depth Understanding

Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a hormonal reproductive disorder, that affects how a female ovary should function. 

Normally an egg is released once a month and this is called ovulation, however being diagnosed with PCOS can have an impact on this and cause irregular ovulation, or no ovulation at all, meaning irregular, infrequent or absent periods are common symptoms of PCOS. 

PCOS can also affect your metabolism (the chemical reactions in the body’s cells that change food into energy) making it easier to gain weight and more difficult to lose weight.

  • The exact cause of PCOS is unknown. 
  • It’s related to abnormal hormone levels in the body, including high levels of insulin.
  • Insulin is a hormone that controls sugar levels in the body.
  • Many women with PCOS are resistant to the action of insulin in their body and produce higher levels of insulin to overcome this.
  • This contributes to the increased production and activity of hormones like testosterone.
  • Being overweight or obese also increases the amount of insulin your body produces.

You are born with PCOS, but symptoms often start during puberty although for some people this can be later, up to their early twenties. There are lots of different symptoms that can be caused by PCOS. 

1 in 10 females are diagnosed with PCOS and 1 in 5 females are diagnosed within Ethnic Minority groups, making it very common women reproductive disorder health condition. 

  • Irregular periods or no periods at all.
  • Difficulty getting pregnant (because of irregular ovulation or no ovulation).
  • Excessive hair growth (hirsutism) – usually on the face, chest, back or buttocks.
  • Weight gain.
  • Oily skin or acne.
  • Pelvic and back Pain
  • Anxiety and Depression
  • Elevated Androgens: Increased levels of male hormones can lead to acne, excess facial/body hair, and hair thinning.
  • Ovarian Cysts: Small fluid-filled sacs may develop on the ovaries.

Your doctor will talk to you about your symptoms to help rule out any other health conditions.

It can be helpful to keep a note of your period dates and symptoms using a calendar, a diary, or an app. This can help you track how the symptoms are affecting your life, and will give your doctor more of an insight.

Your doctor might recommend you have some hormone and/or blood tests, to rule out any other hormone-related conditions.

You might also need to have an ultrasound scan, as this will help them to diagnose PCOS.

Up to 70% of affected women remain undiagnosed worldwide.

Dietary changes: Making healthy changes to your diet can help you lose weight, balance hormone levels and manage pain. These changes will include controlling portion sizes, drinking more water and following a nutritious diet.

Physical Activity changes: It’s recommended that those with PCOS do a minimum of 30 minutes exercise a day, five days a week, which should be a combination of cardio and strength training

You should try to:

  • eat lots of fruit and vegetables
  • eat more fibre
  • drink plenty of water
  • eat oily fish
  • reduce meat and dairy products
  • avoid sugary food and drink
  • avoid or limit alcohol
  • going for regular walks
  • keeping active, in particular: walking, pilates, yoga and aerobic exercises
  • Doctor/ GP 
  • Obstetrician
  • Gynaecologists
  • Endocrinology
  • Nutritionist 
  • Personal Trainers 
  • PCOS Relief

PCOS is associated with an increased risk of diagnosis of depression and anxiety.

Women with PCOS are often insulin resistant; their bodies can make insulin but can’t use it effectively, increasing their risk for type 2 diabetes.

There is currently no cure for polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), and it does not go away on its own. Even after menopause, women with PCOS often continue to have high levels of androgens as well as insulin resistance. This means that the health risks associated with PCOS are lifelong.

Females who does not manage their PCOS condition effectively can develop long term health condition such as: 

  • Cardiovascular diseases 
  • Strokes
  • Type 2 Diabetes 
  • Obesity

The contraceptive pill may be recommended to induce regular periods, or periods may be induced using an intermittent course of progestogen tablets (which are usually given every 3 to 4 months but can be given monthly).

On average, women with PCOS take longer to fall pregnant than other women. This can be because they have irregular periods which means that they don’t ovulate every month. Also, being overweight reduces fertility and can contribute to women with PCOS taking longer to conceive.

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Yes. Having PCOS does not mean you can’t get pregnant. PCOS is one of the most common, but treatable, causes of infertility in women. In women with PCOS, the hormonal imbalance interferes with the growth and release of eggs from the ovaries (ovulation).

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A medicine called clomifene may be the first treatment recommended for women with PCOS who are trying to get pregnant.

Clomifene encourages the monthly release of an egg from the ovaries (ovulation).

If clomifene is unsuccessful in encouraging ovulation, another medicine called metformin may be recommended. 

Metformin is often used to treat type 2 diabetes, but it can also lower insulin and blood sugar levels in women with PCOS.

As well as stimulating ovulation, encouraging regular monthly periods and lowering the risk of miscarriage, metformin can also have other long-term health benefits, such as lowering high cholesterol levels and reducing the risk of heart disease.

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Surgery

A minor surgical procedure called laparoscopic ovarian drilling (LOD) may be a treatment option for fertility problems associated with PCOS that do not respond to medicine.

Under general anaesthetic, your doctor will make a small cut in your lower tummy and pass a long, thin microscope called a laparoscope through into your abdomen.

The ovaries will then be surgically treated using heat or a laser to destroy the tissue that’s producing androgens (male hormones).

LOD has been found to lower levels of testosterone and luteinising hormone (LH), and raise levels of follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH).

This corrects your hormone imbalance and can restore the normal function of your ovaries.

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If you have PCOS and medicines do not help you to get pregnant, you may be offered in vitro fertilisation (IVF) treatment.

This involves eggs being collected from the ovaries and fertilised outside the womb. The fertilised egg or eggs are then placed back into the womb.

IVF treatment increased the chance of having twins or triplets if you have PCOS.

Yes, you can have both PCOS and endometriosis at the same time. One condition does not affect the other, but there may be multiple symptoms that you are experiencing that overlap and can be the root cause of your fertility challenges or pain.

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