Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) can cause a range of symptoms for many women, but for others there may be none at all.
For many the only hint of PCOS is irregular periods, while in more severe cases sufferers can be left with embarrassing hair growth on their faces, chest, back and backside.
The condition affects how a woman's ovaries function.
It occurs when the sacs the ovaries sit in are unable to release an egg, which means ovulation doesn't happen.
In these cases becoming pregnant naturally is impossible, as no egg is released into the fallopian tube ready to be fertilised.
The condition can also lead to an absence of periods, which can also make it difficult for a woman to become pregnant.
But it doesn't always spell the end of being able to have children – Victoria Beckham and Jools Oliver are proof it is possible to defy the odds.
But what about symptoms that don't include irregular periods?
There's a bunch of symptoms related to PCOS that you might not have been aware of…
A big spot appearing on your face every now and then is hardly unusual, but if you have adult acne it could be a sign of PCOS.
It's no secret acne is related to hormonal imbalances, as well as sweat, stress and your time of the month.
So it's no wonder why PCOS can cause you to break out.
If your ovaries aren't functioning properly you may not have enough oestrogen or progesterone, the female sex hormones, in your body.
This can cause an imbalance of androgens like testosterone, the male sex hormone, which can make you break out.
2. Hair loss
You've probably heard that PCOS can cause you to grow excess body hair – thanks to those androgens again.
But those same hormones can actually make your hair fall out.
Women who have gone through menopause may also find the same thing, because their levels of oestrogen drop.
3. Sleep apnoea
Trouble sleeping but can't work out why? Maybe you should speak to your doctor about PCOS.
Again, it's all down to your hormones disrupting your natural rhythm.
Sleep apnoea is a sleep disorder characterised by brief episodes of stopped breathing during sleep. This disrupts sleep and impacts oxygen delivery to the body.
It can lead to lower pain tolerance, high blood pressure, mood changes, heart disease, and increased weight.
So why does PCOS cause it?
Higher levels of testosterone in a woman's body are thought to disrupt their sleeping patterns.
PCOS can also cause insulin-resistance, especially in overweight women, which has also been linked to poor sleep.
4. Anxiety and depression
Mental health problems aren't exactly a symptom of PCOS, but are definitely related.
The condition can be highly distressing for women to go through, even before their diagnosis.
Not having your period sounds like a God send for many women, but when you realise something may be wrong with your fertility it's an entirely different story.
Right from the beginning of noticing symptoms to diagnosis and even though any treatments, women with PCOS are at greater risk of mental health problems like anxiety and depression.
So if you aren't feeling yourself it's important you speak to a GP or mental health professional about how to cope.
5. Ovarian cysts
Like you need any more to worry about when you have PCOS, but it puts you at greater risk of ovarian cysts.
That means if you regularly suffer cysts it could be a sign you have PCOS.
Ovarian cysts are growths that occur on the ovaries.
An ovarian cyst is a fluid filled sac that develops on a woman’s ovary, according to the NHS.
They usually only cause symptoms if they rupture, are very large, or blocks the blood supply to the ovaries.
It may cause pelvic pain, pain during sex, a frequent need to wee, heavy or irregular periods, bloating and difficulty becoming pregnant.
6. Weight gain
It's those pesky hormones again.
An excess of male sex hormones in the body can cause you to pile on the pounds – and make it harder to lose them.
That's because the hormone imbalance can make it harder for the body to digest foods and affect your energy levels.
On top of that, we already know that being overweight increases your risk of things like diabetes, heart disease and even some types of cancer.
So if you notice you've gained weight lately but can't work out why you should speak to your GP.
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