The long term effects of polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) can, for many women, be managed by health and lifestyle changes states new Patient Information published today (22 June) by the RCOG.
PCOS is a common condition which can affect a woman’s menstrual cycle, fertility, hormones and aspects of her appearance. Estimates of the number of women with PCOS vary widely, ranging from 2% to 26%.
Having polycystic ovaries does not necessarily mean that you have PCOS. Many women with polycystic ovaries have no symptoms and no problems with fertility.
The most common symptoms associated with PCOS are irregular periods or no periods at all, an increase in facial or body hair, a loss of hair on the head (male-pattern baldness), oily skin, acne, being overweight, and difficulty in becoming pregnant.
PCOS can also have effects on long term health, including insulin resistance and diabetes, high blood pressure, womb (endometrium) cancer, snoring, fatigue and sleepiness during the day, depression and mood swings.
The patient information describes how, for many women, symptoms and the long term effects of PCOS can be managed by eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly and maintaining a healthy lifestyle
Geeta Kumar, Chair of the RCOG Patient Information Committee said:
“Although the exact cause of PCOS is not known it tends to run in families. So if you have a relative (mother, aunt, sister) with PCOS your risk of developing PCOS is increased. Diagnosis of PCOS depends on symptoms, blood tests, and ultrasound scan – however if you think that you have the symptoms of PCOS you should talk to your doctor, gynaecologist, or practice nurse. They will give information on a healthy diet and exercise to reduce the long-term risks of PCOS and advise monitoring to check for early signs of health problems such as diabetes.
Cath Broderick, Chair of the RCOG Women’s Network said:
“Although there is no ‘cure’ as such, for a woman with PCOS losing a small amount of weight can make a big difference to their symptoms and health. It decreases the risk of insulin resistance and diabetes, reduces risk of heart problems and cancer of the womb, improves problems with acne and excess hair, and increases the chance of becoming pregnant.”
For further information, please contact the RCOG Media and PR team on +44 20 7772 6300 or email email@example.com.
10 things you need to know about PCOS
- Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) is very common, though estimates of how many women have PCOS vary widely, from 2 in 100 women up to as many as 26 in 100 women
- Having polycystic ovaries does not necessarily mean that you have PCOS. Many women with polycystic ovaries have no symptoms and no problems with fertility
- The cause of PCOS is unknown – but it can run in families
- The symptoms of PCOS vary from mild to severe – some women with PCOS can still become pregnant
- Symptoms of PCOS are irregular periods or no periods at all, an increase in facial or body hair, a loss of hair on the head, oily skin, acne, being overweight, and difficulty in becoming pregnant
- PCOS can affect long term health - increasing the risk of insulin resistance and diabetes, high blood pressure (which can lead to problems with the heart), endometrium (lining of the womb) cancer, snoring, fatigue and sleepiness during the day, depression and mood swings
- Women with PCOS should be monitored for diabetes, cancer of the womb, high blood pressure, and depression and other psychological problems
- Symptoms and the long term effects of PCOS can be managed by eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly, and maintaining a healthy lifestyle
- Medication to manage the symptoms and consequences of PCOS have not been shown to be any more effective than healthy lifestyle changes
- There is help out there – talk to your practice nurse, doctor or gynaecologist, or to support groups such as Verity (www.verity-pcos.org.uk)