Frequently asked questions:pcos
Q. What is Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS)?
PCOS is a spectrum endocrine disorder that affects an estimated five to ten percent of women. For a general summary, see our 'About PCOS' section.
Q. What are the symptoms of PCOS?
Click HERE to find out about the symptoms of PCOS.
Q: Is PCOS life-threatening?
PCOS can be associated with a number of serious medical conditions. PCOS is frequently associated with decreased sensitivity to insulin (i.e., insulin resistance), which in turn may lead to an increased risk of adult on-set diabetes mellitus, stroke and cardiovascular disease. PCOS can also be associated with uterine and endometrial cancers.
Q: How many women are affected by PCOS?
It is estimated that approximately 7 million women in the United States and 10 million women worldwide suffer from PCOS
Q: What causes PCOS?
The susceptibility to PCOS is often inherited, however the precise cause is unknown.
Q: How is PCOS diagnosed?
Diagnosis requires obtaining blood samples for a variety of hormones, including those produced by the ovaries, adrenal glands, pituitary gland and thyroid gland. A full physical examination and screening for cholesterol, triglyceride, glucose and insulin should also be part of a complete evaluation.
Q: Is PCOS a gynecological or an endocrinological disorder?
Since many of the symptoms involve a woman’s reproductive system, PCOS is often mistaken for a gynecological disorder. It is, however, a disorder of the endocrine system involving hormones and hormone production. Therefore, a specialist in the endocrine system, such as a reproductive endocrinologist, should be consulted to confirm diagnosis.
Q: Is there an overall treatment for PCOS?
At the present time, doctors can only treat the individual symptoms of women with PCOS, rather than the entire syndrome. Once diagnosed, most patients can effectively managed their symptoms to help lead healthier and more satisfying lives. In the meantime, research continues to determine the cause and look for new and better treatments for PCOS.
Q: Are there other issues related to PCOS?
There is often a stigma attached to many of the symptoms of PCOS, particularly facial and body hair, infertility and obesity. Some women may even suffer from depression as a result of the symptoms. Women with PCOS need emotional and social support to deal with the effects of this condition on their lives. Research has shown that a strong network of friends and family greatly enhances an individual’s ability to cope with the distressing effects of PCOS. You can learn more about other issues related to PCOS in the 'Associate Health Problems' section.
Q: Why is public awareness of PCOS so critical?
The symptoms of PCOS can vary from one woman to the next, therefore, a woman often does not realize she has the syndrome. Public information and awareness about the symptoms and the serious nature of the disorder are crucial to identifying women in need of treatment. In addition, for women to make informed decisions about their health management, the information upon which they base their decisions should be accurate, current, based on well-performed research studies and obtained from well-informed and well-trained physicians and other caregivers. This information must be easy for the general public to find and understand.