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PCOS - Causes

The primary reason for PCOS is hormonal imbalance. In women with PCOS, the ovaries make more androgens (male hormones) than normal. High levels of these hormones affect the development and release of eggs during ovulation.

PCOS is also associated with insulin, a hormone that allows your body to use sugar (glucose) from carbohydrates in your food. It uses this glucose for energy or stores it for future use. Many women with PCOS have too much insulin in their bodies, because they have problems using it. Excessive insulin appears to increase the production of androgen, which interferes with the development of follicles and prevents normal ovulation. High androgen levels can lead to:

  • acne
  • excessive hair growth
  • weight gain
  • problems with ovulation

Other affected hormones include testosterone - it is secreted in small amounts in women as compared to men - and luteinising hormone (LH) – this stimulates ovulation. However, this may have an abnormal effect on the ovaries if their levels are too high. In some women, this hormonal imbalance further elevates levels of prolactin - a hormone that stimulates the breast glands to produce milk during pregnancy.

Genetics may also be one of the contributing factors, which may increase the chances of developing this condition, although the exact link and specific genes associated with it are not yet established.