What is PCOS?

Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a reproductive and/or a metabolic disorder that occur in females at puberty, during reproductive age and even after menopause. In recent years, incidence of PCOS in India and the world is high due to an altered sedentary lifestyle with a lot of stress and improper eating habits. One in five women in India suffer from PCOS (The Hindu).

A female is diagnosed with PCOS if she has two of the three criteria (called Rotterdam criteria):

1. Oligomenorrhea (>45 days or <8 menstrual cycles per year) and/or anovulation (no cycle)

2. Hyperandrogenism - Biochemical: Total testosterone, >70 ng/dL, Clinical: Acne, Hirsutism (unwanted hair growth in the face and body), Acanthosis nigricans (velvety black patch around the neck, face and/or in joints) 

3. Polycystic ovaries - >12 follicles/eggs (2-9 mm diameter) in each ovary; Ovarian volume >10 cc (in  ultrasound scan)

The picture below shows the presence of multiple cysts (immature follicles) in the ovaries as compared to one mature follicle in the normal ovary during the course of a menstrual cycle.