Polycystic ovary syndrome is a hormonal condition that is actually quite common. It causes the overproduction of androgens (or male hormones) in women which then causes havoc in the female body—messing with the menstrual cycle (causing irregular periods), causing the development of cysts in the ovaries, impacting cardiovascular health, causing hair and skin issues, and making it rather difficult to conceive (as androgen levels affect ovulation and egg release).
This condition is uncomfortable for women due to the array of symptoms that come with it, but it’s particularly frustrating for women who are trying to conceive. To raise awareness and understanding about this condition, here are some quick but important facts about PCOS…
1. It’s a Hormonal Disorder
We tend to associate hormones with women, but there are “male” hormones too. These hormones are called androgens and believe it or not, our ovaries produce them! Women with PCOS have ovaries that produce too many androgens which causes missed periods, body hair, hair growth, weight gain, and acne. This excess of androgen can cause problems around ovulation and fertility. “Each cycle, a follicle is supposed to break open and release a mature egg. In women with PCOS, that doesn’t happen. Instead, the follicle sticks around as a tiny cyst,” explains Prevention.
According to Jessica Lalley, MD, a board-certified ob-gyn and associate clinical professor at Michigan State University, it’s still unclear whether the cysts are what is producing this excess androgen or they are a result of it. “It’s a chicken-or-egg thing,” says Lalley to Prevention.