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PCOS is another relatively common hormonal disorder affecting about 5% of women. Despite its relatively wide distribution, it remains poorly understood. It is associated with being overweight, growth of unwanted male-type body hair, irregular periods (& infertility due to lack of ovulation) and a tendency to develop diabetes. There is no single test that can be used to diagnose the condition. The cause of PCOS is not known, though increased production of male hormone (testosterone) by the ovaries and increased secretion of luteinizing hormone by the pituitary gland are seen. In addition, there is a tendency for people with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome to have insulin-resistance (one of the causes of diabetes) which leads to increased testosterone production by the ovaries.
PCOS can be treated and its symptoms reduced through a combination of lifestyle changes and medical treatments.
Many women who have PCOS and who have unwanted male-type hair (hirsutism) are overweight. Being overweight may well be a significant contributing factor, since female hormone (estrogen) is converted to male hormone (testosterone) in fat tissue. Increased concentration of male hormone is associated with male-pattern hair growth as well as male-type hair loss (from the temporal/frontal regions of the scalp. Weight loss reduces the amount of male hormone and thereby reduces the hair growth/loss problem.
Hair can be removed by many methods, but keep in mind that the best one for a friend may not be the best for you. Methods for management of unwanted hair include:
Several medications are used to treat PCOS and its symptoms. These include:
For more information about Polycystic ovary syndrome, please see handout available here.