Polycystic ovary syndrome (or PCOS) is a common condition affecting 3 to 5% of women of reproductive age. It is linked with hormonal imbalances, which can bring about a range of symptoms. ‘Polycystic’ simply means ‘many cysts’ but these are not cysts that need to be removed.
The basic cause of polycystic ovary syndrome is thought to involve an inability of the ovaries to produce hormones in the correct proportions, although the exact underlying cause of the condition is unknown. The pituitary gland in the brain senses that the ovary is not working properly and in turn releases abnormal amounts of luteinizing hormone (LH) and follicle stimulating hormone (FSH), which are both linked to the ovary’s ability to develop and release an egg. It is when this ability to ovulate becomes disturbed that menstrual and fertility problems can occur.