Polycystic Ovaries (PCO) is a common female hormone imbalance, which can result in ovarian cysts and cause irregular (unpredictable) ovulation. Some women with PCO only have a period every second or third month making it very difficult to predict ovulation and ultimately making it difficult to become pregnant. Symptoms include weight gain, excess body hair and skin problems, such as acne. Although the cause is not known, it does seem to have some genetic links. Some women with PCO have Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS), where the features mentioned above are also accompanied by disturbances in sugar balance, rather like diabetes. This is known as insulin resistance and is associated with a number of metabolic disturbances.
PCO is diagnosed primarily by an ultrasound scan of the ovaries, as well as blood tests to measure the hormones associated with ovarian function. It may also be necessary to test sugar and insulin levels if PCOS seems to be present.