Some of you may already know this but I thought that it was important to start with this as newly diagnosed women can gain from this but also people who have PCOS or PCO family members should be aware of the definition and differences since these are extremely common.
PCOS stands for Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome which is an endocrine and metabolic condition that can also affect the reproductive system. PCOS is diagnosed by the following criteria (this was developed in Rotterdam in 2003 by the American Society of Reproductive Medicine and the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology); you need to have 2 of the following 3 criteria:
Oligo ovulation (meaning irregular/erratic ovulation, this can be seen in women with long cycles or irregular cycles). Or Anovulation (meaning no ovulation has occurred/no egg has been released during a cycle).
Clinical and/or biochemical signs of hyperandrogenism. Clinical signs include hirsutism (male pattern hair growth, thick coarse hair growth), acne, and central alopecia (balding). Biochemical signs are found via a blood test when they are looking at testosterone, androgens, sex hormone binding globulin (SHBG).
Polycystic ovaries that are diagnosed via an ultrasound and other endocrine conditions (like cushing’s syndrome, thyroid disorders, adrenal hyperplasia) are excluded.
PCO stands for Polycystic Ovaries which refers to the ovaries having a cystic appearance. While ‘cysts’ are the terms used for this condition it is really follicles that are fluid filled that look like cysts on the ovary.
The difference between PCOS & PCO is that PCOS is a syndrome and PCO is based on the appearance of the ovaries. Some women with PCOS won’t have PCO although a fair majority do, and women who have PCO don’t always have the syndrome.
Stay tuned next week as I will be discussing the signs and symptoms as well as going through the causes in more detail each week.