Many women often struggle with sudden weight gain, acne, irregular periods, and unwanted facial hair, without really understanding the underlying cause of these symptoms. A visit to a gynaecologist can reveal a diagnosis of a condition known as Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS). Medical descriptions and mentions of this condition date back to 1935. Despite that, even today, there is a general lack of awareness regarding this condition and it often remains undetected for years. This health condition is estimated to affect about 10 million women globally and 20-25% Indian women of childbearing age. PCOS is a common endocrine disorder affecting 5-10% of women within the reproductive age bracket. It could lead to hormonal derangement in women, and is characterised by one or all of the following features: Anovulation, which is lack or absence of release of an egg from the ovary during menstrual cycle Clinical or biological signs of hyperandrogenism, which could comprise of scalp hair loss, acne, increased body or facial hair Polycystic ovaries, ovaries having multiple cysts on its outer edges Causes and symptoms of PCOS The exact cause of PCOS remains unknown. Experts believe excess testosterone, obesity, insulin resistance, genetic predisposition, and inflammation may cause this condition. Multiple genes contribute towards this condition, and it most likely runs in families. Being overweight leads to inflammation, which impairs cell response to insulin , resulting in insulin resistance. All of these may collectively lead to PCOS. The most common symptoms of PCOS in women are - Irregular periods Heavy bleeding Unwanted hair growth on face and body Acne on the face, upper back, and chest Weight gain Male pattern baldness Dark patches of skin on the neck, groin, and under the breasts Headaches triggered by hormonal changes This condition disrupts the menstrual cycle, leading to fewer periods per year. It is usually diagnosed by blood tests, a pelvic exam, or an ultrasound.