About 10% of women of reproductive age have polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). It’s a hormonal condition that’s linked to genetics, along with excess androgen and insulin in the body.

It’s not clear exactly what causes PCOS, but it has the power to hinder your health and your life. Many women are first diagnosed with PCOS in their 20s or 30s, after not being able to get pregnant, and other symptoms include irregular periods and changes in appearance.

Samuel Van Kirk, MD and our team specialize in PCOS, helping women of all ages find treatment that’s effective. The condition can present many different symptoms, and it affects every woman in unique ways. You could have PCOS if …

1. Your periods are irregular

PCOS interferes with ovulation, the time during your menstrual cycle when your ovaries release an egg. If ovulation is irregular, it makes your menstrual periods irregular too.

Some women with PCOS have heavy, long periods and fewer than eight periods each year, while others may experience shorter menstrual cycles and more frequent periods. Other women with PCOS stop having periods completely.

2. You’re having trouble getting pregnant

PCOS is one of the most common causes of female infertility. Your body is most fertile in the days surrounding ovulation, but hormonal irregularities with PCOS make ovulation irregular or nonexistent.

Irregular ovulation makes it more difficult to get pregnant. In some cases, PCOS may make you more likely to experience miscarriage or premature birth.

3. You struggle to maintain a healthy weight

Being overweight or obese increases your risk of PCOS, but having PCOS may also increase your risk of being overweight. It’s not clear exactly how weight and PCOS are linked, but women with PCOS often struggle with weight gain and obesity.

High androgen and insulin levels can make it harder for you to lose weight, even with a healthy diet and plenty of exercise. You might also be more likely to gain weight, increasing your risk of obesity and related health conditions like metabolic syndrome and Type 2 diabetes.

4. You’ve noticed changes in hair growth

Women with PCOS may experience male-pattern hair growth and thinning head hair, or male-pattern baldness. Male-pattern hair growth, also called hirsutism, includes hair growth on the face, arms, chest, back, and abdomen.

Excess body hair growth and thinning head hair can be distressing, and it affects up to 70% of women living with PCOS. Both hirsutism and thinning head hair are linked to elevated androgen levels in the body.

5. You have adult acne

Along with unusual hair growth, increased androgen levels and other hormone imbalances can cause adult acne in women with PCOS. You may notice acne on your face, chest, and upper back.

PCOS may also cause the formation of skin tags. These small flaps of skin appear around the neck and armpits, and while they’re harmless, they can get caught on jewelry or clothing.

The symptoms of PCOS can disrupt your health, your appearance, and your self-esteem, but treatment can balance hormones and regulate ovulation to minimize your symptoms.

Our team is here to help you find a treatment plan that fits your lifestyle. Call our office in Redding, California, at 530-242-4129 or send Dr. Van Kirk a message online for more information.

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