Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS)


Polycystic (many cysts) Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) is a complex condition where the ovaries are generally larger than average and the outer surface of the ovaries has an abnormally large number of small follicles (sacs of fluid that grow around the egg due to the influence of stimulating hormones from the brain).

In PCOS these follicles remain immature, never growing to full development or ovulating to produce an egg capable of being fertilised. Therefore women rarely ovulate (release an egg), have reduced fertility and irregular periods. Other common symptoms include excess weight and body hair. The condition affects up to 10% of all women between the ages of 15 and 50 and is particularly common among women with ovulation problems (an incidence of about 75%).In the general population, around 25% of women will have polycystic ovaries seen on an ultrasound examination but most have no other symptoms or signs of PCOS and have no health problems. The ultrasound appearance is also found in approximately 15% of women on the oral contraceptive pill.
 

Causes

PCOS may have some genetic basis and could be more likely to develop if there's a family history of diabetes (especially Type 2) or if there's early baldness in the men in the family. Women are also more at risk if they're significantly overweight, and there is a suggestion in various schools of therapy that emotional issues may be a contributing factor.
 

Treatment

There are several possible approaches but acupuncture and herbs can be very successful along with attention to an appropriate nutritional programme.