Women with polycystic ovary syndrome usually have at least several of
the many signs and symptoms associated with PCOS, including:
- Irregular or no menstruation. This
is the most common characteristic. Irregular menstruation means having
menstrual cycles that occur at intervals longer than 35 days or fewer than
eight times a year. The condition may begin in adolescence with the onset of
menstruation, or it may appear later after a weight gain.
- Signs of excess androgen. Elevated
levels of male hormones may result in physical signs, such as long, coarse
hair on your face, chest, lower abdomen, back, upper arms or upper legs (hirsutism);
acne; and male-pattern baldness (alopecia). However, not all women who have
polycystic ovary syndrome have physical signs of androgen excess.
- Enlarged ovaries with multiple cysts. Your
doctor may detect ovarian cysts by ultrasound. However, you may have ovaries
with multiple cysts but still not have polycystic ovary syndrome. And you
may have PCOS but have ovaries that appear normal.
- Infertility. Polycystic
ovary syndrome is the most common cause of female infertility in the United
- Obesity. It's
estimated that about half of women with polycystic ovary syndrome are obese.
- Skin tags. These
small, excess growths of skin that are usually found on your neck or in your
armpit are common in women with PCOS.
- Prediabetes or type 2 diabetes. The
ability to use insulin effectively is impaired in PCOS and can result in
high blood sugar levels and diabetes. Prediabetes is also called impaired
- Acanthosis nigricans. This
is the medical term for darkened, velvety skin on the nape of your neck,
armpits, inner thighs, vulva or under your breasts.