Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) - Emphasis on Syndrome

PCOS Winnipeg - Women's Health Winnipeg - Hormones Winnipeg

I’m willing to bet you’ve heard the term ‘PCOS’ before.

Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS). The first thing I want to emphasize: it’s a syndrome – not all signs and symptoms show up in every individual with PCOS.

The Rotterdam Criteria is used to diagnose PCOS, requiring at least 2/3 of the following:

  • Hyperandrogenism (we’ll talk about what this means) (1)

  • Ovulatory dysfunction (ie. irregular periods – infrequent or absent periods) (1)

  • Polycystic ovaries (identified on ultrasound) (1)

Hyperandrogenism is associated with things like:

  • Acne/oily skin

  • Hirsutism (excessive hair growth that can appear in a male pattern, scored by the Ferriman-Gallwey)

  • Acanthosis nigricans

  • Androgenic alopecia


PCOS may also be associated with obesity, type II diabetes, dyslipidemia (issues with cholesterol), sleep apnea and depression. (2)

Women with PCOS often have issues with insulin resistance, regardless of being overweight or thin. I have seen a significant number of thin PCOS patients – being thin does NOT exclude you from the potential of PCOS.

PCOS is a common endocrine disorder in women and can have profound effects on cardiovascular health, fertility, and self-esteem.


The good news? There is so much that can be done with both conventional and naturopathic medicine. Lifestyle modification (diet, exercise) is considered a critical, primary therapy for PCOS. (3)

On top of looking at the clinical signs & symptoms, there are tons of laboratory tests that can be used to start investigating the potential of PCOS – if you’re suspicious, talk to your healthcare provider. 


(1)   PMID: 24151290

(2)   PMID: 20159883

(3)  PMID: 28570835

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