Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a common condition that affects how a woman’s ovaries work.
PCOS affects millions of women in the UK. The three main features of the condition are:

  • Cysts that develop in your ovaries (polycystic ovaries)
  • Your ovaries do not regularly release eggs (ovulate)
  • Having high levels of “male hormones” called androgens in your body

Symptoms of PCOS usually become apparent during your late teens or early twenties. They can include:

  • Irregular periods or no periods at all
  • Difficulty getting pregnant (because of irregular ovulation or failure to ovulate)
  • Excessive hair growth (hirsutism) – usually on the face, chest, back or buttocks
  • Weight gain
  • Thinning hair and hair loss from the head
  • Oily skin or acne

Polycystic ovary syndrome is associated with an increased risk of problems in later life, such as type 2 diabetes and high cholesterol levels. You should speak to your GP if you think you may have PCOS.

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