top of page

Polycystic Ovary Syndrome

What is Polycystic Ovary Syndrome?

Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a common hormonal disorder that affects people with ovaries, typically during their reproductive years. PCOS is characterized by a combination of symptoms related to hormonal imbalances, ovarian cysts, and metabolic disturbances.


The exact cause of PCOS is not fully understood, but it is thought to involve a combination of genetic, hormonal, and environmental factors. Some of the key features of PCOS include:


  1. Menstrual irregularities: PCOS often causes irregular menstrual cycles, including infrequent periods, irregular bleeding, or no periods at all (amenorrhea). This is due to hormonal imbalances that disrupt the normal ovulation process.

  2. Ovarian cysts: People with PCOS may develop small fluid-filled sacs called cysts on their ovaries. These cysts are follicles that have not developed properly due to hormonal imbalances, and they can contribute to irregular menstrual cycles and fertility issues.

  3. Hyperandrogenism: PCOS is associated with elevated levels of androgens, or male hormones, such as testosterone. This can lead to symptoms such as excess facial or body hair growth (hirsutism), acne, and male-pattern baldness (hair thinning or hair loss at the crown of the head).

  4. Insulin resistance: Many individuals with PCOS have insulin resistance, a condition in which the body's cells do not respond effectively to insulin, leading to high levels of insulin in the blood. Insulin resistance can contribute to weight gain, difficulty losing weight, and an increased risk of type 2 diabetes.

  5. Metabolic disturbances: PCOS is associated with an increased risk of metabolic syndrome, a cluster of conditions including high blood pressure, high cholesterol levels, and abdominal obesity, which increase the risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes.


Symptoms of PCOS include:

  • Irregular menstrual cycles

  • Excessive facial or body hair growth (hirsutism)

  • Acne

  • Male-pattern baldness or hair thinning

  • Weight gain or difficulty losing weight

  • Infertility or difficulty getting pregnant

  • Darkening of the skin, particularly in skin folds (acanthosis nigricans)

  • Fatigue

  • Mood changes, such as depression or anxiety

Treatment options

Treatment for PCOS aims to manage symptoms, regulate menstrual cycles, and address underlying hormonal and metabolic imbalances. This may involve lifestyle modifications (such as healthy diet, regular exercise, and weight management), medications (such as oral contraceptives to regulate menstrual cycles, anti-androgen medications to reduce symptoms of hyperandrogenism, and insulin-sensitizing drugs to improve insulin resistance), and fertility treatments for individuals trying to conceive.


It's important for individuals with PCOS to work closely with healthcare providers, including gynecologists, endocrinologists, and fertility specialists, to develop a comprehensive treatment plan tailored to their specific needs and goals. With appropriate management, many people with PCOS can effectively manage their symptoms and improve their overall health and well-being.

Can exercise help?

Exercise can play a beneficial role in managing polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) by helping to address several key aspects of the condition. Here's how exercise can help:


  1. Improves insulin sensitivity: Regular exercise helps to improve insulin sensitivity and reduce insulin resistance, which are common features of PCOS. By increasing the body's ability to respond to insulin, exercise can help regulate blood sugar levels and reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

  2. Aids in weight management: Many individuals with PCOS struggle with weight management due to metabolic imbalances and hormonal factors. Regular exercise, particularly aerobic exercise and strength training, can help promote weight loss or weight maintenance, reduce excess body fat, and improve body composition.

  3. Regulates menstrual cycles: Exercise can help regulate menstrual cycles in individuals with irregular or absent periods due to PCOS. Physical activity helps to balance hormone levels, improve ovarian function, and promote regular ovulation, which can help regulate menstrual cycles and improve fertility.

  4. Reduces androgen levels: Exercise has been shown to reduce levels of androgens, or male hormones, such as testosterone, in individuals with PCOS. This can help alleviate symptoms of hyperandrogenism, such as excess facial or body hair growth (hirsutism), acne, and male-pattern baldness.

  5. Improves mood and mental well-being: Exercise has numerous benefits for mental health and can help reduce symptoms of depression, anxiety, and stress, which are common among individuals with PCOS. Physical activity triggers the release of endorphins, neurotransmitters that promote feelings of happiness and well-being, and can help improve mood and overall mental well-being.

  6. Supports cardiovascular health: PCOS is associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, including high blood pressure, high cholesterol levels, and abdominal obesity. Regular exercise helps to improve cardiovascular fitness, reduce risk factors for heart disease, and promote overall heart health.

  7. Promotes overall health and well-being: Exercise has numerous health benefits beyond managing PCOS symptoms, including reducing the risk of chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and certain cancers. Engaging in regular physical activity can improve overall health, enhance quality of life, and increase longevity.

bottom of page