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PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome)

Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) is a medical condition characterized by:

  • Infrequent menstrual cycles
  • Obesity
  • Hirsutism (extra hair on extremities, face, chest, abdomen and back)
  • Male pattern baldness
  • Acne
  • Dysfunction in the production of the LH and FSH hormones that control ovulation

In certain cases, PCOS is associated with other endocrine gland problems like the adrenal gland and thyroid gland. The condition may occur along with metabolic syndromes and insulin resistance, and may be a warning sign of adult onset diabetes (Type 2 Diabetes)

Obesity and PCOS

From the research, it is unclear to physicians if obesity causes PCOS or if PCOS causes obesity. It is clear that the sex hormones estrogen and testosterone are involved in losing and gaining weight, but again researchers do not understand that relationship fully.

How can weight loss improve my PCOS?

Weight loss improves the insulin resistance associated with PCOS, and for some women may improve the hormone imbalance and increase fertility. The amount of weight needed to be lost is not known.

Can PCOS make it harder for me to lose weight?

Yes. Patients with PCOS have a hard time losing weight, but again, we don’t understand why. However, at Johns Hopkins, our weight loss specialists will develop a healthy nutrition and exercise plan that should help you lose weight. There are other weight loss strategies your doctors may recommend, based on your personal medical history and how much weight you need to lose. Learn more about our weight loss services.