One of the most common hormonal issues women face is Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS). Affecting 1 in 15 women, PCOS is a condition in which many small cysts fill a woman's ovaries. While some women begin showing signs of the condition — through weight gain, extra facial hair, and acne — in their teens, many do not discover it until they try to conceive a baby.
According to A.D.A.M.:
In polycystic ovary disease, there are many poorly developed follicles in the ovaries. The eggs in these follicles do not mature and, therefore, cannot be released from the ovaries. Instead, they form cysts in the ovary. This can contribute to infertility. The immature follicles and the inability to release an egg (ovulate) are likely caused by low levels of follicle stimulating hormone (FSH), and higher-than-normal levels of male hormones (androgens) produced in the ovary.
Though the condition sounds frightening, the good news is that PCOS is treatable.
During routine gynecological exams, doctors suspecting that their patients have PCOS will ask patients about their menstrual cycles and other symptoms. They will check for extra body hair and high blood pressure, while also conducting blood tests to check out blood sugar levels and hormone levels. Doctors may also suggest pelvic ultrasounds to see if there are any cysts present on the ovaries.
Should a woman be diagnosed with the condition, there are several treatments, including both birth control pills and the infertility drug Clomid. Women with PCOS who wish to conceive still have a good chance of normal pregnancies with a little medical or surgical intervention.