7 Signs of PCOS

by Dr. Edward Group DC, NP, DACBN, DCBCN, DABFM Published on , Last Updated on


In a previous article, the popular topic of polycystic ovary syndrome was explored. Many people read information about PCOS and identify with its symptoms, misguidedly assuming they’re suffering from the disease. If you do think you might have PCOS, however, here are some of the biggest signs:

1. Increased Hair Growth

Hirsutism, or the increased accumulation of body hair, is a common symptom of PCOS and occurs from too much testosterone circulating in the female body. [1] Humans have two types of hairs: vellus and terminal. Vellus hairs are the finer, softer hairs that are typical for most women. Terminal hairs are the darker, courser hairs, usually found in a man’s beard. In women with PCOS, excess terminal hair can grow on the face or body. [2]

2. Discolored Areas of Skin

PCOS has the tendency to discolor areas of the skin. These discolorations normally occur at the folds of skin—the armpit, for example—and are often thought to be a sign of diabetes. Normally, however, these are simply caused by excess weight gain, but are also a strong indicator of PCOS.

3. Obesity and/or Weight Gain

Unexplainable weight gain is often a hallmark of PCOS, but keep in mind any sudden weight gain can lead to problems. In the case of women who are already overweight or obese, there is an increased risk for type 2 diabetes, which leads into the next point at number 4. [3]

4. Elevated Insulin Levels and Insulin Resistance

A 2012 study published in the journal Women’s Health noted that many women with PCOS already have type 1 diabetes or an increased risk of developing type 2. Further research published in Clinical Diabetes even suggests that PCOS is, in fact, a precursor. [4] Diabetes and PCOS have a bit of a chicken-or-the-egg relationship, but what is known is that the PCOS body can produce excess insulin, possibly leading to insulin resistance.

5. Oily Skin and Acne

Acne or excess oil on the skin is another side effect brought on by too much testosterone. Even the non-PCOS female body has levels of testosterone, but the amount coursing through the body now is much too high. These levels can cause the unfortunate side effect of hormonal acne.

6. Dandruff

I think we can all agree that no one likes dandruff. PCOS dandruff, however, is not the flakes that are caused by dry skin. This type of dandruff, also called seborrheic dermatitis, is caused by hormonal imbalances.

7. Irregular Menstrual Periods

While PCOS can be diagnosed without the presence of all the symptoms mentioned here, all women will have either irregular periods or absence of a menstrual cycle. This is because the ovaries have elevated levels of testosterone, interfering with egg release. Ultimately, this leads to infertility issues.

Do any of these symptoms sound familiar to you? As the leading cause of infertility in women, PCOS begins with the hormones produced in the endocrine system, so never ignore anything your body tells you. If PCOS has been an issue for you, leave a comment below and tell us how you’re managing it.

References (4)
  1. Kopera, D., Wehr, E., & Obermayer-Pietsch, B. Endicronology of Hirsutism. International Journal of Trichology; 2 (1); 30–35.
  2. Bode, D, Seehusen, D, & Baird, D. Hirsutism in Women. American Family Physician. 2012 Feb 15;85(4):373-380.
  3. Barber, T & Franks, S. The Link Between Polycystic Ovary Syndrome and Both Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus. Women’s Health. 2012; 8 (2): 147-154.
  4. Sharpless, J. Polycystic Ovary Syndrome and the Metabolic Syndrome. Clinical Diabetes. 21(4), 154-161.

†Results may vary. Information and statements made are for education purposes and are not intended to replace the advice of your doctor. Global Healing Center does not dispense medical advice, prescribe, or diagnose illness. The views and nutritional advice expressed by Global Healing Center are not intended to be a substitute for conventional medical service. If you have a severe medical condition or health concern, see your physician.

  • Jkendra

    I was diagnosed with PCOS 2 years ago, but have been dealing with it my whole life. I’ve tried a couple of things, but I am hopeless that I will ever find something that will cure me from this nightmare once and for all.

  • Pamela

    This article is quite misleading… 1) Many women have insulin resistance but have normal fasting glucose levels. 2) Many women are not overweight but still have irregular hormones/elevated androgens and 3) Most of these symptoms are also linked with hypothyroidism – many are misdiagnosed as having PCOS when in fact, they have slow thyroid function….

  • Pamela

    Have you ever considered, or worked with someone in natural medicine?

  • Jane Dowd

    I didn’t feel mislead, I think you misinterpreted possibilities as hard absolutes?

  • angelgal3776

    No, I agree with Pamela. As a woman who is diagnosed with PCOS, I have experienced all of these symptoms at one point or another, but am very aware that it could instead be thyroid problems because another female family member has been diagnosed with that and has pointed out the correlation. It means a lot of tests, because there are hair fine differences.

  • Jane Dowd

    So what you’re saying is that these are 7 potential signs of PCOS and not 7 absolute signs of PCOS?

  • angelgal3776

    These signs highly indicate that a woman may have PCOS. However, Pamela is right in that a woman can have none of them and still have PCOS OR she can have all of them and instead of having PCOS have thyroid problems.

    The only person in this discussion who posited absolute vs possibility was you, not Pamela or the article. There are many sets of illnesses that mimic each other, not just PCOS and hypothyroidism, and thyroid problems can be misdiagnosed as a lot of things, as well.

    To truly know what, if anything, a person has, a rather extensive panel of tests needs to be run. Even then, things can get diagnosed if the doctors treating the patient aren’t properly trained. Not many doctors actually are.

  • angelgal3776

    The biggest indicator is period abnormalities and usually infertility. However, as an example – my sister had trouble conceiving, and I got pregnant with both of my children with relative ease. PCOS has 4 variations, of which I think the only consistent sign is abnormal periods or the absence if them.

  • babli

    how to deal with ovarian cyst naturally…plz help….i usually missed my periods due to this..

  • Kamar Alam

    is there any cure for hirsutism, becs my fiance has this problem, i have checked with her blood test, her blood sugar is normal, thyroid and liver test is normal, but her Free Testosterone and prolactin is higher than permissible level due to which has Hirsutism, is there any natural or Ayurveda treatment for this ?

  • Shafaque

    Hi i have pcos from 6 years and gas many dandruff my hairs all falking a lot excess will it regrow and how much time will it take? Will it stop falling and how?

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