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Many women have a condition called polycystic ovary syndrome, otherwise known as PCOS, without even knowing it. Often times, candidates with PCOS experience irregular periods and increased facial hair and acne, particularly in the chin, lip, and sideburns.

This is the result of a hormone imbalance, and that often — but not always — PCOS causes cysts to form right on the ovaries.

These cysts aren’t harmful, but they do lead to hormone imbalances that can cause infrequent or prolonged menstrual periods, excess hair growth, acne and obesity. It’s also important to get a diagnosis of PCOS early on so it doesn’t lead to long-term complications like type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

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What causes PCOS?

Doctors don’t know what exactly causes polycystic ovary syndrome, but there are a few theories about certain risk factors:

  1. Excess insulin: Too much insulin might affect the ovaries by increasing androgen production (male hormones), which could ultimately interfere with the ovaries’ ability to ovulate correctly.
  2. Low-grade inflammation: Studies have shown that women who have PCOS also have low-grade inflammation, which causes polycystic ovaries to produce androgens.
  3. Heredity: PCOS can run in families, so if your mother or sister has it, you have a greater chance of getting it, too.

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