PCOS in Women – Do you know the facts

Dr Himabindu

Medically Reviewed by Dr. Himabindu,
March 3, 2023

PCOS in women:1 in 4 Indian women (25%) suffer from polycystic ovarian syndrome – and, particularly, in the north Indian states the percentage of women having this issue seems to be higher. PCOS is one of the most common causes of infertility in women. PCOS is being reported even in young girls aged around 13 to 14 years. The problem seems to develop as early as when a girl starts her first menstrual period (menarche) – and also during her adolescence life. PCOS can also affect women during the later half of their lives.

Facts about PCOS

PCOS in women

Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) affects 15-25% of reproductive-aged women and is one of the most common endocrine disorders in women.


In PCOS, Follicles with immature eggs develop around the edge of the ovaries leading to disruption of ovarian function.

PCOS in women

Numerous small fluid-filled cysts are formed. These cysts make excess male hormones. Women have male hormones (androgens) in small amounts, but when they develop PCOS, male hormones are produced in large amounts (abnormal levels).

Are there any Dermatologic Features that indicate PCOS?

Dermatological manifestation is considered as one of the fundamental criteria for defining the clinical definition of PCOS. Excess androgen – the male hormone (Hyperandrogenism) may result in hirsutism (excess hair growth on upper lips, hands and neck region), acne vulgaris and androgenetic alopecia. Acanthosis nigricans (dark skin patches) is a cutaneous sign of hyperinsulinemia

PCOS in women

What is Insulin Resistance – and how it occurs in PCOS?

Your pancreas makes a hormone called insulin. It is just like a bus that carries passengers to their destination – i.e., cells. Here passengers are glucose molecules. Insulin resistance means cells don’t allow insulin (bus) to enter inside. When this happens, the passengers (glucose molecules) remain in the bloodstream and therefore, their levels go up. When this happens, pancreas makes more insulin in order to bring down blood sugar levels.

When insulin levels rise, they cause the levels of male hormone ( androgen) to increase. Excess male hormone levels impact ovulation and hampers the release of eggs from ovaries.

Insulin resistance symptoms in PCOS

Dark velvety skin patches on neck, armpits or under the breasts, weight gain and huge appetite.

Other Symptoms of PCOS

  • Absence of menstruation or irregular periods
  • Missed periods or light periods
  • Abnormal periods – heavy flow, less flow, prolonged flow
  • Thinning hair on the scalp
  • Absence of ovulation and difficulty in conception

Complications Associated with PCOS

Excess androgen and insulin levels (hyperinsulinemia) may lead to a wide range of signs and symptoms.  PCOS, over time, may increase the risk of psychological, cardiovascular, metabolic and reproductive problems if the condition is left unaddressed or untreated. Some of the complications associated with PCOS include:

  • Prediabetes or type 2 diabetes
  • Infertility
  • Eating disorders, anxiety and depression
  • Obesity
  • Sleep apnea
  • Gestational diabetes
  • Premature birth or miscarriage
  • Endometrial cancer

Nonalcoholic steatohepatitis — Fat buildup in the liver causes a severe liver inflammation.

Metabolic syndrome

Women with PCOS may develop high blood sugar, high blood pressure and high levels of unhealthy cholesterol or triglycerides. This condition is known as metabolic syndrome. This condition can increase the risk of developing cardiovascular disease.

Up to 70% of women with PCOS have excess hair growth on their face and body and up to 80% women with PCOS are overweight.

Pregnancy and Fertility Issues

Women who have PCOS may develop endometrial hyperplasia – thickening of uterine lining. It may lead to difficulty conceiving, repeated miscarriages, gestational diabetes and even the risk of endometrial cancer increases.

What causes PCOS?

Any woman at any age can get PCOS irrespective of whether she has any pre-existing medical condition. Though the exact cause of PCOS is not yet clear, genetics and a strong family history can play a critical role by increasing the risk manifolds. Unhealthy eating habits, excess body weight, diabetes, sedentary lifestyle and hormonal changes can increase the risk of PCOS.

PCOS Diagnosis – How is PCOS Diagnosed?

A gynecologist will diagnose PCOS if a woman has polycystic ovaries, irregular periods and excess androgens and infertility issues. When you see your gynecologist she will ask about your medical history, periods and other symptoms. She will perform pelvic examination and recommend an ultrasound and blood tests to check blood glucose and hormonal levels.

Treatment of PCOS in women

Experts provide symptomatic treatment with an emphasis on the management of lifestyle factors for faster recovery. If you have PCOS and also gain excess body weight, then weight reduction (losing weight) or aggressive weight management is as good as taking medicines. Expert gynecologists recommend weight reduction because losing as little as 10 to 15% of body weight can means a lot in terms of improving fertility, menstruation and also in reducing future complications – such as heart disease, liver disorders, diabetes and infertility issues. Gynecologists may prescribe medicines to induce periods and improve fertility – and to manage other symptoms if a woman with PCOS has difficulty getting pregnant. In addition, regular physical activity, balanced diet and regular consultations with the doctor will help in improving health, and reducing future complications.

These three things are important: Change in dietary habits, weight reduction and physical activity are essential to manage PCOS.


To modulate hormonal production (androgen) and their action, gynecologists recommend hormonal therapy. And to treat, dermatological conditions, non-hormonal therapies are recommended.


When Should you See a

You should consult your
gynecologist, if you have the following signs:

Absence of periods,
menstrual flow less than normal and irregular periods

Weight gain

Appearance of excess body
hair (hirsutism) on face, neck and dark skin appearance signals androgen excess.

If you normally have hair
on face – nothing to worry, but if you see new hair growth on face or hands
along with weight gain and appearance of acne, then these should be considered
as telltale signs of PCOS. PCOS Affect the “Beauty of a woman”

Can you get pregnant if you have PCOS?

PCOS makes it very difficult to conceive as cysts in ovaries interfere with ovulation. When a healthy egg is not available to be fertilized by an actively motile sperm, you cannot get pregnant.

To know what should you do to get pregnant if you have PCOS,  READ – “Can A Woman with PCOS Get Pregnant”

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