Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) is a common hormonal condition affecting almost 400,000 women in Australia. If you have PCOS, your ovaries are typically larger and contain many small follicles. It may be caused by a number of factors, including the over-production of male hormones (androgens), and genetic and lifestyle factors. In more than two-thirds of cases, PCOS is associated with being overweight.

Although PCOS often goes undetected, it carries the risk of long-term complications such as reduced fertility, impaired glucose tolerance and Type II Diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, fatty liver disease, sleep apnoea, and increased risk of endometrial cancer.

Dr Haider Najjar specialises in diagnosing and treating PCOS

Symptoms include irregular or infrequent periods and episodic heavy bleeding, difficulty falling pregnant, excess facial and body hair and acne, thinning scalp hair and uneven pigmentation. You may have elevated insulin or insulin resistance, increased levels of cholesterol and elevated blood pressure.

These symptoms are exacerbated by excess body weight.

To confirm your diagnosis, you may have the following tests:

  • Ultrasound scan to confirm the presence of numerous follicles in the ovaries and measure the thickness of the lining of the uterus
  • Blood tests
  • Lipid profile-checking for elevated cholesterol levels
  • OGTT- checking for glucose intolerance and diabetes
  • Hormonal Assays- looking specifically at androgen levels, hormones that control the ovarian cycle (LH, FSH and progesterone), prolactin, and thyroid hormones

PCOS can be managed to prevent long-term complications. Dr Najjar will develop an individual treatment plan, taking your symptoms, fertility wishes and any complications into account. This may include:

  • Lifestyle changes, including weight loss and exercise
  • Targeted medication to regulate the menstrual cycle, such as a low-does contraceptive pill or Clomid, or Metformin, a drug used to treat insulin resistance in Type II Diabetes, or anti-androgens such as Spironolactone
  • Counselling to support psychological wellbeing

If you have PCOS and you’re also finding it difficult to fall pregnant naturally, Ovulation Induction (OI) can help. PCOS may also increase the risk of miscarriage, so it’s important to seek medical advice.