PCOS -- A Complicated Disorder

History of PCOS
This syndrome has baffled physicians for more than a century. In 1905, American gynecologists Dr. Irving Stein and Dr. Michael Leventhal were the first to officially describe PCOS. They both noticed a group of women who were experiencing similar symptoms -- lack of periods, abnormal hair growth, obesity, and ovary enlargement caused by cysts. These doctors were the first to link the seemingly unrelated symptoms and give it a name, Stein-Leventhal syndrome. Later, the disorder was renamed polycystic ovary syndrome due to the polycystic ovaries that are found in many women who suffer from PCOS.

Today, in an attempt to better reflect the true nature of the condition, the syndrome is also called cystic ovaries, sclerocystic ovarian disease, functional ovarian hyperandrogenism (elevated levels of male hormones), hyperandrogenic chronic anovulation, and ovarian dysmetabolic syndrome.

Patients and physicians are beginning to see the need for a consistent name for the syndrome. A more accurate name would better describe the condition and prevent confusion in research, diagnosis, and treatment.

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Living with PCOS by Angela Boss and Evelina Weidman Sterling, copyright 2001. Reprinted with permission.

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