Specialist expertise: Complex Endocrine Disorders, Neuroendocrine Disorders, Thyroid Disorders, Adrenal Disorders, Pituitary Disorders, Endocrinology, Endocrine Disorders, Endocrine Tumour, Hypertension, Parathyroid Disorders, Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, Infertility, Abnormal Periods, Calcium Disorders, Pancreatic Cancer.
Polycystic ovary syndrome, or PCOS, is one of the most common reasons that women come to see an endocrinologist but it is also one of the most confusing. Although the syndrome is named for characteristic cysts less than 1cm in size just below the surface of the ovary, it is possible to be diagnosed with PCOS even if the ovaries look normal on a scan. Likewise, while up to 20% of women have such cysts on the ovaries but do not have the syndrome.
The diagnosis rests on individuals having two out of three of the following:
- Irregular or absent periods, suggesting that ovaries may not be releasing eggs regularly
- Symptoms or blood test findings of high levels of “male” hormones in the body, which may cause physical signs such as excess facial or body hair
- Visible cysts on the ovaries which are actually egg-containing follicles that have wrongly developed due to hormonal imbalance.
If these features are present it is also important to consider other reasons why these might be occurring as sometimes there is an alternative diagnosis that needs to be considered.