Is PCOS Preventable?

The short answer from an Ob/Gyn
Polycystic Ovary showing growth - illustration

Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) is the most common hormonal condition in reproductive age women. It usually affects up to 10% of women and a diagnosis of PCOS requires at least two of the following conditions:

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  • Absent or irregular periods.
  • Elevated male hormone, acne or abnormal hair growth on the face, chest and abdomen.
  • An ultrasound showing polycystic ovaries.

PCOS can’t be prevented entirely because most cases are genetically acquired, though the way it’s inherited is poorly understood. However, doctors are beginning to see a link between a women’s genes and poor lifestyle choices that make her more susceptible to developing PCOS. 

In other words, your genetic makeup doesn’t necessarily mean that you will have PCOS, since it may only develop if other risk factors are present in some cases.

Other risk factors that may lead to further developing PCOS include:

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Women with PCOS also have a higher risk of depression, diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease and endometrial cancer. 

So no, PCOS is not preventable, but it can be treated and managed. Your lifestyle habits greatly contribute to the development of the disease. All women are encouraged to eat a healthy diet and exercise to maintain their ideal weight, avoid more than moderate alcohol and caffeine and manage stress. Women with infertility, irregular periods or abnormal hair growth should see a physician.

— Infertility specialist Jeffrey M. Goldberg, MD

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