In a previous article, the popular topic of polycystic ovary syndrome was explored. Many people read information about PCOS and identify with its symptoms, misguidedly assuming they’re suffering from the disease. If you do think you might have PCOS, however, here are some of the biggest signs:
7 Signs of PCOS
1. Increased Hair Growth
Hirsutism, or the increased accumulation of body hair, is a common symptom of PCOS and occurs from too much testosterone circulating in the female body.  Humans have two types of hairs: vellus and terminal. Vellus hairs are the finer, softer hairs that are typical for most women. Terminal hairs are the darker, courser hairs, usually found in a man’s beard. In women with PCOS, excess terminal hair can grow on the face or body. 
2. Discolored Areas of Skin
PCOS has the tendency to discolor areas of the skin. These discolorations normally occur at the folds of skin — the armpit, for example — and are often thought to be a sign of diabetes. Normally, however, these are simply caused by excess weight gain, but are also a strong indicator of PCOS.
3. Obesity and/or Weight Gain
Unexplainable weight gain is often a hallmark of PCOS, but keep in mind any sudden weight gain can lead to concerns. In the case of women who are already overweight or obese, there is an increased risk for type 2 diabetes, which leads into the next point at number 4. 
4. Elevated Insulin Levels and Insulin Resistance
A 2012 study published in the journal Women’s Health noted that many women with PCOS already have type 1 diabetes or an increased risk of developing type 2. Further research published in Clinical Diabetes even suggests that PCOS is, in fact, a precursor.  Diabetes and PCOS have a bit of a chicken-or-the-egg relationship, but what is known is that the PCOS body can produce excess insulin, possibly leading to insulin resistance.
5. Oily Skin and Acne
Acne or excess oil on the skin is another side effect brought on by too much testosterone. Even the non-PCOS female body has levels of testosterone, but the amount coursing through the body now is much too high. These levels can cause the unfortunate side effect of hormonal acne.
I think we can all agree that no one likes dandruff. PCOS dandruff, however, is not the flakes that are caused by dry skin. This type of dandruff, also called seborrheic dermatitis, is caused by hormonal imbalances.
7. Irregular Menstrual Periods
While PCOS can be diagnosed without the presence of all the symptoms mentioned here, all women will have either irregular periods or absence of a menstrual cycle. This is because the ovaries have elevated levels of testosterone, interfering with egg release. Ultimately, this leads to infertility issues.
- Kopera, D., Wehr, E., & Obermayer-Pietsch, B. Endicronology of Hirsutism. International Journal of Trichology; 2 (1); 30–35.
- Bode, D, Seehusen, D, & Baird, D. Hirsutism in Women. American Family Physician. 2012 Feb 15;85(4):373-380.
- Barber, T & Franks, S. The Link Between Polycystic Ovary Syndrome and Both Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus. Women’s Health. 2012; 8 (2): 147-154.
- Sharpless, J. Polycystic Ovary Syndrome and the Metabolic Syndrome. Clinical Diabetes. 21(4), 154-161.
†Results may vary. Information and statements made are for education purposes and are not intended to replace the advice of your doctor. If you have a severe medical condition or health concern, see your physician.