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What is polycystic ovary syndrome?

Your ovaries are a pair of small organs that store eggs, located low in your tummy. As part of your period’s cycle, an egg is released from your ovaries. This is called ovulation.

Please note: Some advice, such as visiting a GP face-to-face, may not be relevant while COVID-19 social distancing measures are in place

Sometimes, many harmless tiny sacs, called follicles, gather in your ovaries. These sacs are often unable to release an egg, so ovulation doesn’t take place.

This is called polycystic ovary syndrome, or PCOS. PCOS is very common in the UK and affects about 1 in 5 women.

What are the symptoms of PCOS?

Signs of PCOS will show when you’re in your late teens or early 20s. Symptoms can include:

  • irregular periods or no periods at all
  • difficulty getting pregnant
  • excessive thick dark hair growing on your face, chest, back or bum cheeks
  • weight gain
  • thinning hair and hair loss from the head
  • oily skin or pimples / spots.

When should I see a GP?

See your doctor if you think you have PCOS. The doctor will ask about your symptoms and take your blood pressure, to rule out other issues.

They will arrange for you to have hormone tests – which could be done at home, or through a blood test.

You may need an ultrasound scan.

What treatments are available?

There's no cure for PCOS, but the symptoms can be treated. For example, there is medication for hair growth, irregular periods and to help you get pregnant.

If you’re overweight, losing some weight and eating better can make some symptoms better.

Will I be able to have a baby?

With treatment, most women with PCOS are able to get pregnant.

Find more information about PCOS symptoms, diagnosis and treatment:

Visit the NHS website