- If you have polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) you do not ovulate or you ovulate less often.
- You do not have a period every month. Sometimes you don’t have a period for months.
- Your ovaries produce more ‘male’ hormones than usual.
- You may have more spots (pimples) and body hair.
- Use birth control if you have sex and do not want to get pregnant.
- Make an appointment with your GP if you want to get pregnant.
- Dutch healthcare practices in general may differ from what you are used to in your home country. Learn more.
What is polycystic ovary syndrome?
If you have polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), there are small fluid-filled sacs in your ovaries. These sacs are called follicles or cysts. ‘Poly’ means there are many of these cysts (follicles) in your ovaries.
In a normal monthly menstrual period, 1 follicle grows with an egg cell in it. The follicle bursts and the egg cell comes out. This is called ovulation.
If you have PCOS, there are many follicles, but they do not grow properly. Also, often none of them burst. In that case there is no ovulation. Therefore you do not have a period.
So your ovaries do not work properly. They produce more ‘male’ hormones than normal, such as testosterone.
They are also often larger than normal.
What will you notice if you have polycystic ovary syndrome?
If you have PCOS, you may notice the following:
- You do not have a period. Sometimes you don’t have a period for months.
- You don’t know when you ovulate. And therefore you don’t know when you can get pregnant. It is impossible to predict whether you ovulate and when.
- You may get a lot of spots (pimples) (in Dutch).
- You get more body hair (in Dutch): on your chin, breasts or lower abdomen. And you may have less hair around your temples and crown.
- You may be overweight.
What causes polycystic ovary syndrome?
It is not known what causes polycystic ovary syndrome.
It occurs more often in some families.
How do you know if you have polycystic ovary syndrome?
If you have several these symptoms, you probably have PCOS:
- You do not have a period for months. Or you have irregular periods. This means: there are more than 35 days between your periods.
- You get acne. You get more body hair: on your chin, breasts or lower abdomen. You have hair loss around your temples or crown.
- You have many fluid-filled sacs (follicles or cysts) in your ovaries. This can be seen on an ultrasound via your vagina.
What can you do yourself if you have polycystic ovary syndrome?
- If you do not want to get pregnant, use birth control (in Dutch), such as the pill (in Dutch), a hormonal IUD (in Dutch) or a condom (in Dutch). This is important even if you don’t have menstrual periods. This is because you do not know when you might ovulate again. If you do not use birth control, there is a chance that you might get pregnant after all.
- Are you overweight (in Dutch)? A healthy lifestyle (in Dutch) helps to achieve a healthy weight.
- Do you have spots (pimples)? Read the advice for acne (in Dutch).
It can take longer to get pregnant. If you want to have children, don't delay a first pregnancy too long.
Medication for polycystic ovary syndrome
The birth control pill (in Dutch) also often reduces spots (pimples) and body hair growth.
If you want to get pregnant, you need to ovulate. Hormones can make this happen.
You can get hormone pills or hormone injections. These cause you to ovulate, which increases your chance of getting pregnant. Your GP will refer you to a gynaecologist at the hospital for this.
When to contact a doctor if you have polycystic ovary syndrome
Make an appointment with your GP:
- if you want help choosing birth control
- if you want to get pregnant
- if you want help losing weight
- if you have not had your period for over a year (and you do not use hormonal birth control)
More information about polycystic ovary syndrome
The information about polycystic ovary syndrome is based on:
- the GPs guideline on ‘Amenorrhoea’ (Amenorroe) (in Dutch).