Can I lower my chances of developing PCOS?

Currently, experts don’t know how to prevent polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). In part, PCOS involves high levels of androgens (male hormones) in the body that cause physical symptoms and may stop ovulation.

But experts don’t know what exactly causes a woman’s body to experience this imbalance. So while it might not be preventable, it’s important for women to know the risk factors, symptoms, and signs of PCOS, as well as their own genetic history of PCOS, as this can help women and their providers make an early diagnosis.

There are a number of ways to treat and manage PCOS. Some of these include lifestyle changes, medications, and surgical procedures. Early diagnosis and treatment are also important in that they help lower women’s risks of developing long-term conditions that are more common among women with PCOS.

Risk factors that contribute to PCOS

Certain factors make it more likely for a woman to develop PCOS:

  • A family history of PCOS is the biggest risk factor for the condition
  • Long-term use of certain anti-seizure medications
  • Being very overweight or obese
  • Having diabetes

Common symptoms and signs of PCOS

Women with PCOS experience a range of symptoms. Here are some that occur more commonly than others:

  • Infrequent, irregular, or no periods
  • Heavy or painful periods
  • Acne
  • Facial hair or excessive body hair
  • Excess weight, especially in the midsection

There is no known way to prevent PCOS. Therefore, early diagnosis, lifestyle management, and consistent medical treatment are very necessary to help manage this condition. PCOS may have long-term negative effects, but receiving a diagnosis is the first step towards discovering a range of different ways to manage the condition.

  • “Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS).” Diabetes. American Diabetes Association, Jul 2 2014. Web.
  • “Evidence-based Methodology Workshop on Polycystic Ovary Syndrome.” Executive Summary from the Office of Disease Prevention, National Institutes of Health. Dec 5, 2012. Web.
  • “Revised 2003 consensus on diagnostic criteria and long-term health risks related to polycystic ovary syndrome.” Fertility and Sterility. 81(1)19-25. Jan 2004. Web.
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