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Women's Health

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Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) - What Happens

Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) can affect your reproductive system and how your body handles blood sugar. It can also affect your heart.

Reproductive problems

Hormone imbalances can cause several types of pregnancy problems and related problems, including:

  • Infertility. This happens when the ovaries aren't releasing an egg every month.
  • Repeat miscarriages.
  • Gestational diabetes during pregnancy.
  • Increased blood pressure during pregnancy or delivery, having a larger than normal or smaller than normal baby, or having a premature baby.
  • Precancer of the uterine lining (endometrial hyperplasia). This can happen when you don't have regular menstrual cycles, which normally build up and "clear off" the uterine lining every month.
  • Uterine (endometrial) cancer. Risk during the reproductive years is 3 times greater in women who have PCOS than in women who ovulate monthly.2

Problems with blood sugar

Insulin is a hormone that helps your body's cells get the sugar they need for energy. Sometimes these cells don't fully respond to insulin. This is called insulin resistance. It can lead to diabetes.

Heart problems and stroke

High insulin levels from PCOS can lead to heart and blood vessel problems. These include:

    WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

    Last Updated: March 26, 2014
    This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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