What Is Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS)?

PCOS is the most common endocrine disorder found in females. In 2016, an estimated 5 million American women were diagnosed with PCOS but, unfortunately, most women do not even know they have it! Up to 70% of women with PCOS are undiagnosed. Although the cause of PCOS is unknown, it is believed that elevated levels of insulin and androgens are related to the development of the disorder. PCOS affects women of all ages from adolescent to post-menopausal ages. 


PCOS is the most common cause of female infertility. An estimated 80% of women with PCOS will experience infertility. Even more apalling is that recent studies have shown that greater than 50% of women with PCOS will experience miscarriage or even recurrent miscarriages. Despite all of this, most women with PCOS are able to conceive on their own or with the assistance of fertility treatments. 

Insulin Resistance

Fifty to 70% of women with PCOS are resistant to insulin which could lead to the development of Type 2 Diabetes and most develop pre-diabetes before the age of 40 years old. Because of this resistance, diet and lifestyle factors play a huge role in the regulation of PCOS symptoms. 

Health Risks

As stated, women with PCOS have an increased risk of developing diabetes due to their insulin resistance. The risk of heart attack is 4-7% times greater than that of a woman the same age who doesn’t have PCOS. Mental health problems are prevalent among PCOS women. Studies suggest that insulin levels and hormone balance contribute to the increased risk of depression, anxiety and rapid mood swings. 


Women with PCOS struggle with daily life because it is known as an “invisible illness”. Symptoms of PCOS make those diagnosed feel like less of a woman and as if there is something wrong with their character without taking into account that there is a chemical imbalance within their bodies. People may develop negative body image, alienate themselves from loved ones and have unexplained “bad days”. It is important to take things one day at a time and to acknowledge that doing your best does not mean driving yourself to insanity. Here are some common PCOS symptoms: 

  • Excess body fat
  • Asthma/allergies
  • Rapid mood swings
  • Hair loss
  • Brain fog
  • Fatigue
  • Insomnia
  • Ovarian cysts
  • Pelvic pain
  • Infertility
  • Trouble losing weight
  • Darkening/thinning skin
  • Leg/foot swelling
  • Headaches/migraines
  • Anxiety
  • Panic attacks
  • Cystic acne
  • Depression
  • Hirsutism
  • Skin tags
  • Insulin resistance
  • Irregular/absent periods
  • Unexplained weight gain
  • Pain during sex
  • High testosterone
  • Chronic pain/inflammation
  • Painful/heavy periods


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