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Polycystic ovaries

Polycystic ovary syndrome constitutes when the number of cysts, small non-cancerous tumors, develop in the ovaries. This syndrome appears to have a hormonal cause, as deficiency in luteinizing hormone and a surplus of androgen hormones, masculine hormones, are often observed. Ultrasound reveals oversized ovaries that are populated with small surplus forms. Periods stop or are irregular, hair growth is overactive, and fertility problems are all common symptoms. Hormonal treatments, notably anti-androgen-based, are sometimes administered, yet surgery is often necessary.


PCOS, or polycystic ovary syndrome, is when the ovaries increase in volume due to the presence of several small cysts. It is a chronic gynecological endocrine disease of genetic origin than mainly affects young women. The origin of the disease is not known precisely, but it appears that hormonal deficit is concerned.


Many symptoms are present in this syndrome. Among the most frequent are:
  • an absence or disturbance of menstrual cycles;
  • weight gain or obesity;
  • the presence of excess hair (on the chest, belly and face);
  • acne;
  • reduced fertility, sometimes infertility.


It is generally possible to diagnose polycystic ovary syndrome by combining the results of the clinical examination with those of additional tests. One particular practice is a blood test, which allows the observation of hormones, including luteinizing hormone, or LH, which increases variably with the disorder. Androgens can also be measured and may be above normal. Other tests are added, such as an ultrasound that shows the presence of cysts in both ovaries and an increase in the volume of these organs.


Treatment varies depending on the severity of symptoms and the patient's desire to have a child or not. It is often necessary to treat obesity (doing so generally contributes to the return of ovulation). Sometimes the patient also needs an antiandrogen treatment to fight against the excess of male hormones. The surgical approach is to remove, by laser, the surface of the ovaries.


It is impossible to prevent polycystic ovary syndrome, since we currently don't know what triggers it.

Photo credits : ©: Peter Lamb - 123RF

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