Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is the most common hormone problem with women during their reproductive years, affecting 5% to 20% of women. It’s the number one ovulation dysfunction and also a major cause of infertility.
A diagnosis of PCOS requires having two out of the following three criteria:
- Irregular periods
- Dark hair growth or elevations in testosterone
- The presence of too many tiny cysts on the ovary during an ultrasound
Irregular periods are normal. Some women bleed every few months, once or twice a year, or hardly ever. The key is when a woman does not ovulate. Women who have more testosterone than they need will display dark hair growth in sex-dependent regions, the upper lip, the chin, around the breast, lower belly, or lower back.
Small cysts on the ovaries are normal. They contain eggs that all reproductive women need to have. However, women with PCOS have at least twenty tiny cysts on one ovary, and the volume of the ovary needs to be more than 10 centimeters cubed.