When to Seek Help for PCOS

Many women and parents of teenagers question when to seek help for PCOS

Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a chronic (long-term) condition. Many symptoms may start gradually and may initially be thought to be related to another medical problem. Early diagnosis and treatment may prevent long-term complications, such as diabetes, reproductive, metabolic, or cardiovascular problems.

If you are a teenage girl, see your health professional if you have:

  • Not started menstruating by age 16 or within 2 years of breast and genital hair development
  • Fewer than eight menstrual cycles a year, and this has lasted for 2 years after you started menstruation
  • Severe acne
  • Excessive hair growth or hair growing in places such as the chest, back, or face (hirsutism).
  • Menstrual cycles that are consistently less than 21 days apart or more than 35 days apart
  • Any symptoms of high insulin levels in the blood (hyperinsulinemia)
  • Excess weight gain or upper body obesity (more abdominal fat than hip fat). This is also known as android obesity and is related to increased male hormone (testosterone) levels

If you are between 20 and 40 years old, see your health professional if you have:

  • Menstrual cycles that are consistently less than 21 days apart or more than 35 days apart
  • Regular menstrual cycles but you have been trying unsuccessfully to become pregnant for more than 12 months
  • Abnormal vaginal bleeding
  • Pelvic pain for more than 6 months
  • Excessive hair growth or hair growing in places such as the chest, back, or face (hirsutism)
  • Any symptoms of high insulin levels in the blood (hyperinsulinemia)
  • Ongoing skin problems, such as acne, oily skin, dandruff, dark skin patches (acanthosis nigricans) on the neck, groin, underarms, or in skin folds, or skin tags (acrochordons) in the armpits or neck area
  • Depression or mood swings. Many women may have emotional problems related to the many physical symptoms of PCOS, such as excess hair, obesity, or infertility
  • Excess weight gain or upper body obesity (more abdominal fat than hip fat). This is also known as android obesity and is related to increased male hormone (testosterone) levels

If you are over 40 years old, call your health professional if you have:

  • Abnormal vaginal bleeding
  • Pelvic pain for more than 6 months
  • Any symptoms of diabetes
  • Any symptoms of heart disease, such as high blood pressure (hypertension)
  • Depression or mood swings. Many women may have emotional problems related to the many physical symptoms of PCOS, such as excess hair, obesity, or infertility

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