Overview

Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome

Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) is a hormonal disorder in which a woman's body produces abnormally high levels of the male hormone, called androgens. These high levels of androgens prevent the ovaries from producing enough progesterone, which is necessary for a normal menstrual cycle. This results in undeveloped egg follicles, which turn into small cysts in the ovaries that prevent ovulation.

PCOS affects approximately five to ten percent of women of childbearing age and is a leading cause of infertility. It is also the most common hormonal disorder among pre-menopausal women.

The exact cause of PCOS is unknown. However, research suggests that genetics may play a part, since women who have female relatives with PCOS are at a higher risk of developing the syndrome. Obesity, diabetes, being insulin resistant and having problems with the adrenal, thyroid or pituitary glands may also contribute to PCOS.

Our Approach to Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome

At UCSF, our women's health experts take a comprehensive approach to treating polycystic ovarian syndrome. Our team includes specialists in reproductive endocrinology, dermatology, nutrition, exercise physiology, psychology and genetics. We work with each woman to develop a personalized treatment plan that best meets her lifestyle and needs.

UCSF Health medical specialists have reviewed this information. It is for educational purposes only and is not intended to replace the advice of your doctor or other health care provider. We encourage you to discuss any questions or concerns you may have with your provider.

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