Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is one of the most common endocrine system disorders among women of reproductive age. In a normal monthly cycle, follicles (immature eggs) develop and one egg is released into the fallopian tube during ovulation. In women with PCOS, the hormones needed for an egg to fully mature are not present, preventing ovulation from occurring and causing cysts to form on the ovaries.

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Infrequent or prolonged menstrual periods, excessive hair growth, acne, and obesity can all occur in women with PCOS. In adolescents, infrequent or absent menstruation may raise suspicion for the condition. Not all women with PCOS have difficulty becoming pregnant. For those that do experience difficulty, infrequent ovulation is a common cause.

Though the exact cause of polycystic ovary syndrome is unknown, early diagnosis and treatment, along with weight loss may reduce the risk of long-term complications.


The ovulation-inducing oral medications clomiphene citrate and letrozole are the principal treatments used to promote ovulation.

For women not responsive to these medications, even with diet and lifestyle modification, there are additional treatment options available such as stimulating the ovaries to produce eggs with follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) injections followed by intrauterine insemination (IUI) or in vitro fertilization (IVF).