Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a chronic endocrine disorder in women. It is characterized by elevated levels of male hormones (androgens), infertility, obesity, insulin resistance, hair growth on face and body, and anovulation—a condition in which the ovaries produce few or no eggs.
Ovaries normally produce follicles that develop into eggs. In women with PCOS, the ovaries produce the follicles, but the eggs may not mature or leave the ovary. The immature follicles can develop into fluid-filled sacs called cysts. Most women with PCOS have cysts, but all women with ovarian cysts do not necessarily have PCOS.
The cause of PCOS is unknown, though genetics may play a role. Some evidence suggests the problem is related to insulin resistance with elevated levels of insulin. These high insulin levels may stimulate excess production of androgens from the ovaries. This could prevent ovulation and lead to enlarged, polycystic ovaries.
Treatments for PCOS include drugs to improve insulin sensitivity, as well as hormonal treatments and, when pregnancy is desired, fertility drugs.
Proposed Natural Treatments for PCOS
For more information, including safety issues, see the full inositol article.
The supplement N-acetylcysteine (NAC) has shown some promise for treatment of female infertility caused by PCOS.
For more information, including dosage and safety issues, see the full N-acetylcysteine article.
- Reviewer: EBSCO CAM Review Board
- Review Date: 09/2014 -
- Update Date: 09/18/2014 -