Symptoms Of PCOS You Shouldn't Ignore

When you've been having menstrual problems for a while, it can be incredibly frustrating to be without an answer. One condition you may want to ask your healthcare provider about is Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS).

Health Digest spoke with Jennifer Kulp-Makarov, M.D., a board-certified OB/GYN at New Hope Fertility Center in New York City about the most common signs and symptoms of PCOS. 

First, it helps to know what PCOS is. According to Dr. Kulp-Makarov, "It is a disorder caused by a hormone imbalance of reproductive hormones and also of insulin. It is very common in women of reproductive age with 1 in 10 women having PCOS. It is often not recognized and under-diagnosed." She adds that, "The exact cause of PCOS is unknown but it often runs in families."

In addition to fertility issues, it's a concern because the insulin imbalance caused by PCOS puts women at a higher risk of type 2 diabetes. Screening blood tests can be done to see if you are at risk for the condition. "Women with PCOS are also at higher risk of developing high blood pressure and obesity is common in PCOS and may make the symptoms of PCOS worse." 

PCOS can cause fertility issues and more

So what would lead a doctor to suspect PCOS? "A common symptom is menstrual irregularities such as having no period for a prolonged time, having a period that skips months or having a long interval between periods (greater than 35 days)." And Dr. Kulp-Makarov says that if this is happening to you, you should see a doctor for further evaluation. Irregular periods do put women at higher risk for endometrial cancer so it's important you don't wait to see your doctor. 

She also stressed that PCOS can cause problems getting pregnant, so If you've been trying for six months without success, consider getting a fertility check. You should call the doctor even sooner if your periods are irregular.

Unusual facial hair can also be a symptom of PCOS. "High levels of androgens or male hormones seen in PCOS can lead to acne or dark facial hairs, especially on the chin or upper lip, in some women. If this is bothersome, you can see a doctor for help," says Dr. Kulp-Makarov.

If you're having issues with your menstrual cycle, its always a good idea to see your healthcare provider sooner rather than later. While PCOS can cause additional health issues, there are successful treatment options.