It doesn’t involve scary cysts
PCOS occurs when a woman has a lot of resting follicles (fluid collections that hold eggs), but doesn’t actually ovulate. Typically, one of those follicles releases an egg from the ovary during ovulation, but this doesn’t happen with polycystic ovaries. “Most women have 10 to 15 total resting follicles on ultrasound, but women with polycystic ovary syndrome may have 10 to 20 on both ovaries—20 to 40 or more total,” says Lora Shahine, MD, a reproductive endocrinologist at Pacific NW Fertility. Dr. Shahine also says that some patients wrongly associate cysts with disease, but women have “cysts” every cycle — it becomes an issue when the number of follicles are extremely high. Make sure you know these 8 PCOS symptoms.
It isn’t easily diagnosed
Polycystic ovary syndrome is very common, but not easily diagnosed. Providers use the Rotterdam criteria, meaning patients must have two out of three symptoms: irregular menstrual cycles from irregular ovulation, excess androgen activity, and polycystic ovaries. Often, the combination of symptoms goes unnoticed because patients speak with separate doctors about these issues individually, causing an information gap. For example, you might see a dermatologist for acne, but not think to talk to your gynecologist about it.