The exact causes aren’t known at this time, but androgen levels that are higher than normal play an important part. Excess weight and family history—which are in turn related to insulin resistance—can also contribute. Sometimes symptoms are clear, and sometimes they’re less obvious.
You may visit a dermatologist for acne, hair growth, or darkening of the, a gynecologist for irregular monthly periods, and your family doctor for weight gain, not realizing these symptoms are all part of PCOS. Some women will have just one symptom; others will have them all. Women of every race and ethnicity can have PCOS. It’s common for women to find out they have PCOS when they have trouble getting pregnant, but it often begins soon after the first menstrual period, as young as age 11 or 12. It can also develop in the 20s or 30s.
To determine if you have PCOS, your doctor will check that you have at least 2 of these 3 symptoms:
1) Irregular periods or no periods, caused from lack of ovulation.
2) Higher than normal levels of male hormones that may result in excess hair on the face and body, acne, or thinning scalp hair.
3) Multiple small cysts on the ovaries. Just having ovarian cysts isn’t enough for a diagnosis. Lots of women without PCOS have cysts on their ovaries and lots of women with PCOS don’t have cysts.