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The PCOS Symptoms Checklist for Women

Medically reviewed by Jobelle Ann Dela Cruz Bigalbal, MD · General Practitioner

Written by Lorraine Bunag, R.N. · Updated Apr 06, 2022

The PCOS Symptoms Checklist for Women

The US Center for Disease Control (CDC) states that Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) is one of the most common causes of infertility among women of reproductive age. Ahead, we’ve put together a PCOS symptoms checklist to better help you detect this condition.

PCOS, defined

Before we list down the polycystic ovary symptoms, let’s first briefly define the condition.

PCOS happens because of an imbalance in the reproductive hormones.

As a result of this imbalance, the ovaries, which are organs that release egg cells for menstruation or pregnancy, can sustain problems which lead to various health issues that may persist well beyond a woman’s childbearing years.

Additionally, some women who have PCOS develop small, fluid-filled sacs (cysts) in their ovaries.

Many women realize that they have polycystic ovary syndrome when they consult their doctor due to period or fertility concerns; however, the condition commonly begins at age 11 or 12, during their first menstrual period.

The PCOS symptoms checklist

Not all ladies who experience PCOS develop all the symptoms.

Furthermore, the severity of each symptom varies from person to person. For instance, some only experience menstrual concerns, some have difficulty conceiving, while others experience both.

Below are the most common symptoms of PCOS:

Period and fertility problems

As mentioned earlier, many women learn about their condition after experiencing period and fertility problems.

You see, each woman experiences their menstrual cycle differently. Most have a cycle of about 28 days, but it can be longer and shorter. If you have PCOS, you may have infrequent or late periods (menstruations more than 35 days apart); in fact, some reports indicate that women with PCOS sometimes have less than 9 periods in a year. Also, menstruation can stop altogether.

Because of these ovulation problems, PCOS likewise makes it difficult for a woman to have a baby.

pcos symptoms checklist

Hair issues

Other observable items on our PCOS symptoms checklist are hair issues.

In PCOS, women may have considerable hair loss, possibly even baldness. However, they may also experience excessive hair growth (hirsutism) in various body parts like the face, chin, chest, stomach, thumbs, and toes.

According to experts, high levels of androgen, a group of hormones responsible for the development of male characteristics, often cause these hair issues in women with PCOS.

Oily skin and acne

The imbalance in reproductive hormones can also result in excess sebum or oil production, which can clog pores and trigger acne and pimples. The breakouts may happen not only on the face but also on the chest and upper back.

Please note that, while acne and pimples are common symptoms, doctors strongly remind us that we shouldn’t rely on them to confirm PCOS. After all, you can develop the breakouts even if you don’t have the condition.

Darkening of the skin

The PCOS symptoms checklist also includes significant darkening of the skin called acanthosis nigricans. If you have this condition, you’ll notice dark, thickened, and velvety patches in different parts of your body, such as the back of your neck, breast, arms, and in your groin area.

Some women with polycystic ovaries may also develop skin tags, little flaps of skin that can form under the arms and in the neck area.

Please note that skin tags and acanthosis nigricans can also be signs of insulin resistance or the body’s inability to respond to insulin, the hormone that allows our cells to absorb sugar.

And it’s not surprising. According to the CDC, most women with polycystic ovary syndrome have insulin resistance, which increases their risk of developing Type 2 diabetes.

Overweight or obesity

A lot of women with polycystic ovaries also experience weight gain or difficulty in losing weight. According to experts, weight gain significantly worsens PCOS symptoms, so shedding some pounds must be a priority as it can improve your period’s timing.

Emotional symptoms

Finally, while less noticeable than the physical signs, mental and emotional stress are also a part of the PCOS symptoms checklist.

Women with polycystic ovaries may experience anxiety, low self-esteem, and poor body image that may negatively affect their life quality.

Key Takeaways

Though this PCOS symptoms checklist can serve as a helpful guide, nothing compares with seeking your doctor’s advice. Note that this condition can manifest through even just a few of the aforementioned symptoms.

Learn more about Polycystic Ovary Syndrome here


Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Medically reviewed by

Jobelle Ann Dela Cruz Bigalbal, MD

General Practitioner

Written by Lorraine Bunag, R.N. · Updated Apr 06, 2022

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