Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) is a condition that affects up to 1 in 5 Australian women, yet up to 70% with the condition remain undiagnosed. It’s also a condition that puts women at higher risk of developing serious chronic health issues such as diabetes, heart disease and high cholesterol.
So what is PCOS? And how do you know if you could be at risk? Read on to find out more.
What is polycystic ovarian syndrome?
PCOS is a hormonal condition that affects 12-18% of women of reproductive age, roughly between the ages of 12 - 45. High risk groups such as Indigenous women are more likely to be affected, with up to 21% potentially at risk.
PCOS causes the ovaries to produce higher than normal levels of male hormones, which can affect a woman’s menstrual cycle, fertility and appearance. Women with PCOS may also often have enlarged ovaries with cysts. While the cause of PCOS is not properly understood, there does appear to be a relationship between PCOS and family history, weight, insulin resistance and poor diet.
What are the symptoms?
PCOS is an extremely complex condition that has both visible and ‘silent’ symptoms. Silent symptoms may include:
- Mood changes
- Sleep apnea
- Insulin resistance
- Problems with conceiving or infertility.
Not every woman will have the same symptoms and she may have a mix of both physical and invisible symptoms or one or the other. Visible symptoms may include:
1. Excess facial hair