Increased Levels of Androgens Resulting in Menstrual Problems and Infertility
Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) occurs when your body makes higher than normal amounts of hormones called androgens. This creates a hormonal imbalance that affects the function of the ovaries (the female reproductive organs that produce and release eggs).
Though doctors don’t yet know the exact cause of PCOS, it’s understood that an excess of androgens leads to menstrual irregularities and infertility. Your menstrual cycle and ovulation (when the ovaries release eggs to be fertilized by sperm) are guided by specific hormones that rise and fall throughout your cycle. PCOS disrupts this process, causing the ovaries to not release eggs.
Symptoms, Diagnosis and Outlook
Men and women produce androgens, but they’re called “male hormones” because they’re more present in men and are responsible for creating male characteristics like thick body hair and a deep voice. However, in women with polycystic ovary syndrome, increased androgens don’t lead to the development of male characteristics. Instead, they cause:
- Menstrual problems (irregular periods)
- Extra body hair on the face, chest, nipples and stomach
- Dark or thick skin markings or creases around the neck, armpits, breasts and groin
- Ovarian cysts
To diagnose PCOS, your doctor at Penn State Health will perform a physical exam to assess your symptoms and a pelvic exam to evaluate the ovaries. You may also undergo a pelvic ultrasound to get pictures of your ovaries. Blood tests may also be done to check hormone levels in your body.
With treatment, your PCOS symptoms can be managed, and you can experience a healthy pregnancy. Proper treatment also reduces your risk for high blood pressure, high cholesterol, obesity, diabetes and endometrial cancer – conditions that are common in women with PCOS are more at risk.
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Why Choose Penn State Health for Care
The Most Innovative Treatments
We help women effectively manage their PCOS symptoms and infertility issues by using the latest proven treatment protocols. Your treatment plan will be founded on your individual health needs and will combine a personalized diet and exercise plan with advanced medical treatments.
Leaders in Research
Our team of doctors includes leaders in polycystic ovary syndrome research. Through clinical trials and ongoing research, they’re improving the medical community’s understanding of the condition and the therapies used to treat it.
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