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Polycystic Ovary Syndrome: Care Instructions


Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a hormone imbalance that can affect ovulation. It can cause problems with your periods and make it hard to get pregnant.

Doctors don't know for sure what causes PCOS, but it seems to run in families. It also seems to be linked to obesity and a risk for diabetes.

You may have other symptoms. These include weight gain, acne, hair growth on the face or body, high blood pressure, and high blood sugar. Your ovaries may have cysts on them. These cysts are growths filled with fluid.

Keep in mind that even though you may not have regular periods, you can still get pregnant. Talk to your doctor about birth control if you don't want to get pregnant. Sometimes the hormone changes with PCOS can also make it hard to get pregnant. If this is a concern, talk to your doctor about treatment for this problem.

With PCOS, you may go for months or longer with no period. Your doctor may recommend medicines that can help regulate your cycle.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse advice line (811 in most provinces and territories) if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

How can you care for yourself at home?

  • Take your medicines exactly as prescribed. Call your doctor or nurse advice line if you think you're having a problem with your medicine.
  • Eat a healthy diet. Include vegetables, fruits, beans, and whole grains in your diet each day.
  • If you're overweight, talk to your doctor about safe ways to lose weight. Losing weight can help with many of the symptoms of PCOS.
  • Get at least 2½ hours of moderate to vigorous exercise a week. Walking is a good choice. Or you can run, swim, cycle, or play team sports.
  • If you have symptoms that bother you, such as acne and excess hair growth, talk to your doctor about treatment options. Medicines can help. For unwanted hair growth, some prefer to use home treatments. These can include shaving, waxing, or other methods to remove the hair.
  • If you're feeling sad or depressed, consider talking to a counsellor or to others who have PCOS. It may help.

When should you call for help?

Call your doctor or nurse advice line now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • You have severe vaginal bleeding.
  • You have new or worse belly or pelvic pain.

Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse advice line if:

  • You do not get better as expected.
  • You have unusual vaginal bleeding.

Where can you learn more?

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Care instructions adapted under license by your healthcare professional. If you have questions about a medical condition or this instruction, always ask your healthcare professional. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information.