Polycystic ovary syndrome signs and symptoms often begin soon after a woman first begins having periods (menarche). In some cases, PCOS develops later during the reproductive years, for instance, in response to substantial weight gain. PCOS has many signs — things you or your doctor can see or measure — and symptoms — things that you notice or feel. All of these can worsen with obesity. Every woman with PCOS may be affected a little differently.
To be diagnosed with the condition, your doctor looks for at least two of the following:
- This is the most common characteristic. Examples include menstrual intervals longer than 35 days; fewer than eight menstrual cycles a year; failure to menstruate for four months or longer; and prolonged periods that may be scant or heavy.
- Elevated levels of male hormones (androgens) may result in physical signs, such as excess facial and body hair (hirsutism), adult acne or severe adolescent acne, and male-pattern baldness (androgenic alopecia).
- Excess hair on the face, chest, stomach, thumbs, or toes
- Thin hair
- Polycystic ovaries become enlarged and contain numerous small fluid-filled sacs which surround the eggs.
Other symptoms of PCOS include:
- weight gain
- anxiety or depression
While not symptoms of the disease, many women with PCOS have other concurrent health problems, such as diabetes, hypertension, and high cholesterol. These are linked to the weight gain typical in PCOS patients.