PCOS, or polycystic ovary syndrome, is becoming increasingly common. The syndrome is characterized by a multitude of factures, including irregular or total loss of menstrual periods, heavy periods, acne, increased facial hair, ovarian cysts and metabolic issues related to insulin sensitivity and blood sugar regulation. It is the most common endocrine disorder of women in America, and affects an incredible 5% to 10% of women between ages 18-44.
Interestingly, as we move forward in our understanding of PCOS, it appears that, despite the name, ovarian cysts are certainly not required to make the diagnosis. That is to say that the cysts are a consequence of the underlying disease process, not the fundamental player.
What PCOS represents is primarily a metabolic disorder closely akin to type 2 diabetes in which the body becomes resistant to the effects of the hormone insulin.