PCOS Part II: symptoms & diagnosis

It’s important to understand that every woman experiences PCOS (Polycystic Ovary Syndrome) differently. I’ve met many women with PCOS across the spectrum when it comes to symptoms. Thus, the following list is simply an idea of what you may be experiencing, and not necessarily the requirements for diagnosis. Symptoms may also worsen/appear with weight gain and stress, and may change throughout your lifetime.

As I mentioned in PCOS Part I, my inability to lose weight and excessive mood swings are ultimately what drove me to the doctor’s office. I also experienced irregular periods, but have since been able to regulate them with diet and exercise. Here are some symptoms that women with PCOS may experience:

Irregular periods
Excessive weight gain or difficulty losing weight
Hair loss on the scalp
Hair growth on hormonal areas (face, chest, stomach, etc)
Excessive acne
Fertility problems
Skin tags or patches of skin discoloration
Depression or mood swings

Women with PCOS have higher than normal androgen levels (male hormones) which is the cause of some of the symptoms above. Your doctor will order a blood test to examine your hormone levels as part of the diagnosis. I was also sent for an ultrasound that showed multiple cysts on my ovaries. It is important to have an open conversation with your doctor about what you are experiencing, and to advocate for yourself when it comes to a proper diagnosis. While there is no cure for PCOS, your doctor may be able to help you manage your symptoms, and you will have peace of mind knowing that symptoms such as “difficulty losing weight” are not all in your head!

Ashley Brodeur, MS, CPT
Exercise Physiologist
Owner, Active Lifestyle Fitness, LLC