What is PCOS? Causes, Symptoms, Consequences and Management

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What is PCOS? Causes, Symptoms, Consequences and Management


PCOS(Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome) is an endocrine disorder characterized by a set of associated symptoms like Irregular cycles, Acne, Hirsutism, Alopecia, many cyst formations in the ovaries which interferes with the reproductive, endocrine, and metabolic functions.


As the exact cause for PCOS is not clear, however, it can be discussed in term of exogenous factor (external factor) and endogenous factor (Internal factor).

Endogenous Factor

Genetic factor

PCOS can run in families, if there is a history of PCOS in the first-degree family then there is often an increased risk of developing the condition. The genetic abnormality in PCOS affects signal transduction ruling steroidogenesis, steroid hormones action, gonadotrophin action and regulation, insulin action and secretion, energy homeostasis, chronic inflammation, and others. Though the genetics of PCOS is not fully understood, early diagnosis and treatment can prevent long-term effects.

Hormonal factor

Balance in the functioning of hormone is very much necessary as hormone carries the message through the bloodstream and responsible for the energy, reproduction, growth, development, movement, digestion, metabolism, tissue function, sleep, and mood manipulation.

In PCOS due to improper coordination between the brain and ovaries (hypothalamic-pituitary-ovarian axis), there is a hormonal imbalance in the body. When we hear about the polycystic ovarian syndrome, most of them think it’s only related to the ovaries as the name suggests with multiple cysts in it. Women are just worried about the cyst and irregular cycles but PCOS is the condition that not only affects the ovaries but also hair, skin, and body with various signs and symptoms and can also hamper the mental & emotional health.

Women with PCOS have an increased risk of diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Regularising the hormonal function is very necessary here. Insulin resistance and excess androgen in the body are the two main hormones causing PCOS.


Obesity(Overweight) is always linked with PCOS and is commonly seen in PCOS women. When obesity is associated with PCOS it worsens the complications, as it can induce insulin resistance which in turn increases androgen production(hormone that play a role in male traits).

Exogenous Factor

Many research studies show that exogenous factors like diet, nutrition, lifestyle, environmental and occupational factors may affect vulnerable women, leading to the occurrence of phenotypic characteristics of PCOS. Diet and lifestyle seem to be one of the foremost environmental influencers for the occurrence of PCOS.

In this table let us look into the signs and symptoms seen in PCOS women.

Symptoms seen in PCOS women

Affects Signs and symptoms
Skin Oily skin
Acne over face and body
Acanthosis Nigricans (Dark, velvety patch of skin seen over neck, armpit, groin)
Hair Hirsutism (excess hair over facial and body)
Alopecia (male pattern scalp hair loss)
Reproductive system Irregular cycles
Heavy bleeding
Polycystic ovaries
Prone to infertility (difficulty in conceiving)
Health challenges during pregnancy
Gut IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome) associated with symptoms like:
Constipation or Diarrhea
Abdomen or pelvic pain
Other Issues Weight gain
Mood swings

Long Term Consequences

PCOS women can tend to have complications in later life where she may develop Type 2 Diabetes, can have effect on cardiovascular system causing high blood pressure or high cholesterol levels. During pregnancy there is a tendency to develop preeclampsia, pregnancy induced hypertension, gestational diabetes, infertility, sleep apnea, obesity, sexual issues, increased risk for endometrial cancer, can develop mood disorders like anxiety and depression.

PCOS Management

PCOS can be managed with a healthy lifestyle, improving psychological health and appropriate treatment. In the next post I will write more about managing PCOS.

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