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Ten truths about polycystic ovary syndrome

You may not have heard of polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), but you probably know a woman who has it. It's a complicated condition that can have serious consequences if left untreated. Here are ten important things to know about PCOS. 

  1. Up to 10 percent of women of childbearing age have polycystic ovary syndrome, and less than half of them have been diagnosed.
  2. Despite the name of this condition, not all women with PCOS necessarily have cysts on their ovaries.
  3. There is no single test to diagnose PCOS.
  4. PCOS occurs when there is a hormone imbalance: a low level of hormones that regulate female reproductive processes and a high level of hormones associated with the development of male characteristics.
  5. Symptoms of PCOS vary from woman to woman.
  6. Symptoms can include excess hair growth on the face or lower abdomen, acne, difficulty losing weight and irregular periods.
  7. PCOS is a common—but treatable—cause of infertility.
  8. Women with PCOS may be at higher risk for uterine cancer and diabetes, but with the right treatment, these risks can be greatly reduced.
  9. Getting regular exercise and eating a balanced diet with a minimum of processed food can help alleviate symptoms of PCOS.
  10. The most effective treatment for PCOS is often a combination of medication, diet and lifestyle changes, and weight loss.

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