What health risks are associated with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)?

Jessica A. Shepherd, MD
OBGYN (Obstetrics & Gynecology)
Health risks associated with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) include an increased risk for all the conditions associated with obesity. In this video, OB/GYN specialist Jessica Shepherd, MD, discusses these risks and how infertility is connected. 
In its most severe form, polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is characterized by overproduction of the male hormone testosterone, which can cause male-pattern hair growth, acne or hair loss, and menstrual abnormalities related to the failure to ovulate. But Susan Davis, M.D., a UCLA endocrinologist, notes that 60-80 percent of women with PCOS -- and 95 percent of obese PCOS women -- also have resistance to the action of insulin, putting them at increased risk for abnormal glucose utilization, type 2 diabetes and premature cardiovascular disease. “PCOS can adversely affect the health of a woman by increasing her risk for numerous problems, including infertility, obstetrical complications, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and mood disorders,” Dr. Davis says.
Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) has a genetic component and can lead to insulin resistance and diabetes if left untreated. There is also a risk for endometrial disease, including endometrial polyps or even hyperplasia or cancer if left untreated for many years.
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There are many key areas in the field of female reproductive system health, including menstruation, pregnancy, fertility, and menopause. As a woman, you may be concerned about other issues related to your sexual health, including ...

genital problems and sexually transmitted diseases. If you are a female that is sexually active, or over the age of 18, it is important to begin seeing a womans' health specialist in order to make sure that your reproductive system stays healthy. Before that, any concerns with menstruation should be addressed with a physician. As you get older, most women become concerned with issues pertaining to avoiding or achieving pregnancy, until menopause begins around age 50.

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.