Almost one out of every 10 teen girls and young women has polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS). This condition is a hormone imbalance that can cause irregular periods, unwanted hair growth, and acne. The condition can be mild or severe. Treatment is important as teens and women with PCOS also are at higher risk for type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and/or high cholesterol.
A key sign of PCOS is irregular or missed periods because the effects of the condition on the ovaries can make a girl stop ovulating. But other symptoms can include:
Patches of dark, thickened skin on the neck, armpits or between the breasts
Periods that are very heavy or very light
Thinner hair on the head
Unwanted hair growth on the face, chest, back, hands, upper arms and legs, or around the nipples
The exact cause is not known, but there appears to be a genetic component as it tends to run in families. Although there is no cure for PCOS, effective treatment can control and eliminate many symptoms.
Tests and Diagnosis
If your doctor suspects your daughter has PCOS, your doctor will do a physical exam to check blood pressure, height and weight, will look at hair growth on the body and will check for patches of darkened skin. Your doctor will also ask you about your daughter’s health, her medicines and her menstrual cycle, and about whether there’s a family history of PCOS.
Additional tests may include:
A blood test to check hormone levels, blood glucose (sugar), or cholesterol