PCOS -- A Complicated Disorder

As soon as Debbie hit puberty, her periods became irregular, she gained weight faster and easier than any of her girlfriends, and she was embarrassed by the amount of hair on her chin, arms, and legs. Her mother finally took her to the doctor, who brushed off the symptoms, explaining that it would take a while for her hormones to “adjust.”

Debbie is now 28, happily married and ready to start a family. Unfortunately, she is still having the same problems. It seems her hormones still haven’t “adjusted.” As a matter of fact, it has been six months since her last period. When she talked to her doctor about this during her last visit, he indicated she may be under too much stress and that she is a few pounds overweight. The doctor said tests weren’t necessary; it was nothing serious. Debbie should just go home and relax. However, Debbie cannot relax. She is frustrated and confused. She knows something is wrong, but what?

What Is PCOS?
Polycystic ovary syndrome, or PCOS, is a complex hormone disorder that causes such symptoms as irregular menstrual cycles, infertility, excessive body hair, acne, and obesity. The syndrome is named for the tiny cysts that may form in the ovaries when the hormone imbalance interrupts the ovulation process. The term polycystic means “composed of many cysts.” If the hormone imbalance is left untreated, the syndrome may lead to life-threatening illnesses such as diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and uterine and endometrial cancers.

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