Most women have at least heard of Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, even if they aren’t sure exactly what the condition entails, and awareness of PCOS as a condition is certainly increasing.
But the same cannot be said of the actual symptoms of PCOS.
To combat that, and to draw more attention to those symptoms so women who are not aware they might have the condition can seek out appropriate treatment, we’ve compiled a list of the symptoms commonly associated with PCOS.
1. Skin Tags
While there are a few skin conditions associated with PCOS, one that women aren’t always looking out for is skin tags. Doctors aren’t sure exactly what the connection is between PCOS and skin tags, but it’s an accepted fact that women who have PCOS also often present with a higher than normal number of skin tags.
2. Patches Of Abnormal Skin
Another somewhat unusual skin-related condition that has been associated with PCOS is thick and sometimes dark patches of skin around the body. These can occur on the neck, arms, breasts or thighs, and are relating to the lessening of female hormones in the body.
The underlying issue of PCOS is a hormone imbalance, causing women to make more androgens than they should. Androgens are male hormones, despite them being also made by women. Higher levels of androgen can cause women with PCOS to suffer from thinning hair, similar to male pattern baldness.
Another condition that medical professionals have linked to excess androgens in the female body is hirsutism. Essentially, this is excessive hair growth, which generally occurs exactly where women do not want excessive hair. Women with PCOS often find themselves having increased hair growth on their face, chest, stomach, back or even feet.
5. Acne, Oily Skin, or Dandruff
One more thing to blame on high androgen levels are skin problems like acne, oily skin and even dandruff, all of which are experienced by women with PCOS. To make matters worse, the hormonal imbalance means that it can be difficult to find topical treatments to deal with these skin conditions.
6. Weight Gain or Obesity
Many women struggle with weight, but women with PCOS have an even more difficult time. The hormonal imbalance makes it very difficult to both control appetite and to lose weight, leaving women with PCOS overweight or even obese, and often carrying extra weight around the waist.
7. Anxiety and Depression
Considering that PCOS is a condition that is the result of a hormone imbalance, it should surprise nobody that women with PCOS are often also diagnosed with anxiety, depression or both. Along with dealing with the actual hormonal issues, there are the emotional struggles of living with PCOS.
8. Infrequent or Irregular Period
Infrequent or irregular periods are often one of the first symptoms that women with PCOS find themselves experiencing prior to their diagnosis. Women may find that their periods are not trackable on any kind of cycle, or that they sometimes do not happen at all.
9. Cysts On The Ovaries
Ovarian cysts are probably the most well-known PCOS symptom, and the symptom from which the condition derives its name. Cysts are fluid-filled sacs that can form on the ovaries, and they’re actually very common. However, with PCOS, the follicles in which the eggs normally mature do not open, leading to painful cysts forming.
10. Pelvic Pain
Women with PCOS often experience pelvic pain relating to their condition. The pain is often described as severe, and occurs on one or both sides of the pelvis near the ovaries. The pain is typically worse when women are having their periods, and is not as severe when bleeding has stopped.
11. Sleep Apnea
Obstructive sleep apnea, a condition that is categorised by sleep loss and oxygen deficiency, is very common in women with PCOS, with some studies suggesting PCOS women are 30 times more likely to have the condition. Sleep apnea can be hard to diagnose, but it is a sign that’s worth looking out for in diagnosing PCOS.
One of the most heartbreaking symptoms of PCOS is infertility. Women with PCOS have infertility problems because the condition means they do not ovulate as they should. In fact, PCOS is one of the most common causes of female infertility. That’s not to say that women with PCOS don’t have children, but the journey may be more difficult.
There you have it, the 12 most common symptoms of PCOS. We hope that this list is helpful to you if you’re working towards a clear PCOS diagnosis, or if you just want to better understand what your friends with PCOS are going through.
If you become concerned about any symptoms, please seek immediate medical attention we have some hotlines and suggested websites for further information and advice https://www.stayathomemum.com.au/my-kids/babies/important-hotlines-websites