What Are the Symptoms of PCOS?

If you have things such as oily skin, missed periods, or trouble losing weight, you may think those issues are just a normal part of your life. But those frustrations could actually be signs that you have polycystic ovary (or ovarian) syndrome, also known as PCOS.

The condition has many symptoms, and you may not have all of them. It’s pretty common for it to take women a while -- even years -- to find out they have this condition.

Things You Might Notice

You might be most bothered by some of the PCOS symptoms that other people can notice. These include:

  • Hair growth in unwanted areas. Your doctor may call this “hirsutism” (pronounced HUR-soo-tiz-uhm). You might have unwanted hair growing in places such as on your face or chin, breasts, stomach, or thumbs and toes.
  • Hair loss. Women with PCOS might see thinning hair on their head, which could worsen in middle age.
  • Weight problems. About half of women with PCOS struggle with weight gain or have a hard time losing weight.
  • Acne or oily skin. Because of hormone changes related to PCOS, you might develop pimples and oily skin. (You can have these skin problems without PCOS, of course).
  • Problems sleeping, feeling tired all the time. You could have trouble falling asleep. Or you might have a disorder known as sleep apnea. This means that even when you do sleep, you do not feel well-rested after you wake up.
  • Headaches. This is because of hormone changes with PCOS.
  • Trouble getting pregnant. PCOS is one of the leading causes of infertility.
  • Period problems. You could have irregular periods. Or you might not have a period for several months. Or you might have very heavy bleeding during your period.

When to See a Doctor

If you have some, or several, of these symptoms, let your doctor know. There are treatments or things you may be able to do to ease these problems and find out if you have PCOS. The sooner you get started, the sooner you can start feeling better.

WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Kecia Gaither, MD, MPH on March 25, 2019



Women’s Health.gov: Office on Women’s Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services: “Polycystic Ovary Syndrome.”

PCOS Awareness Association: “PCOS.”

National Institutes of Health -- Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development: “Polycystic Ovary Syndrome.”

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