Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a hormonal disorder common among women of reproductive age in which a woman’s hormones are out of balance.

Overview and Symptoms

Most women with PCOS grow many small cysts on their ovaries, hence the name. Women with PCOS may have infrequent or prolonged menstrual periods or too much male hormone (androgen) levels. The ovaries may develop numerous small collections of fluid (follicles) and fail to regularly release eggs.

Signs and symptoms of PCOS often develop around the time of the first menstrual period during puberty. Sometimes PCOS develops later, for example, in response to substantial weight gain.

Common symptoms of PCOS include:

  • Acne
  • Weight gain/trouble losing weight
  • Extra hair on the face and body
  • Thinning hair on the scalp
  • Irregular periods
  • Fertility problems
  • Depression


Regular exercise, healthy foods, and weight control are the key treatments for PCOS. Treatment can reduce unpleasant symptoms and help prevent long-term health problems. Your doctor may also prescribe birth control pills to reduce symptoms.

Learn More

The Division of Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism provides expertise in diagnosing, treating and managing a range of endocrine disorders. 

Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism