What Are The First Signs Of PCOS: 11 Noticeable Signs

Polycystic Ovary Syndrome is becoming more and more common with lifestyle changes in current times. Now that brings us to the subject, what exactly is PCOS1?

Polycystic Ovary Syndrome PCOS is one of the most common disorders that affect women during their childbearing years. This hormonal disorder2 can cause prolonged menstrual cycles, even infrequent ones, or excess male hormones.

Let us first look at what exactly can cause Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, an endocrine disorder in young women that affects their reproductive hormones and causes many health problems in them.

Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) - Causes, Risks and Treatments

PCOS women will also have problems in their adrenal glands3, unwanted hair in body parts, abnormal hormone levels, and excess insulin that can contribute to Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome. Many other reasons cause PCOS, and reading PCOS-related articles is the best way to understand what are the first signs of PCOS.

A physical exam or recommended blood tests by a doctor will help detect if you have PCOS and how to get PCOS treated. A healthcare professional will also be able to tell you what are the first signs of PCOS and how to take care of yourself if you have these symptoms of PCOS.

Causes of PCOS

The reasons for PCOS are many, and though the exact cause is not clear, some of the common causes of Polycystic Ovary Syndrome PCOS are:

1. Hereditary

Some genetic variants are passed down from families. Though there is no clear-cut answer to whether PCOS is hereditary, Polycystic Ovary Syndrome is said to have a genetic component, along with environmental factors and lifestyle changes.

2. High levels of male hormones

Doctors are unable to pinpoint the exact cause of PCOS. They believe sometimes bodies produce such high levels of male hormones that it is impossible for the ovaries to produce hormones and release the eggs normally. Women with PCOS usually have high androgen levels, and this imbalance in the body affects menstrual periods. Usually, PCOS is diagnosed in the 20s and 30s, but it can start in teenagers too with the onset of their first period, depending on their genes.

3. Insulin Resistance

PCOS is one of the risk factors for getting diabetes. Insulin resistance can play a role in getting PCOS and can be one of the causes of it. Around 30-40% of women with PCOS have high insulin resistance, leading to high glucose levels and type 2 diabetes.

It is unnecessary for all women with PCOS to develop diabetes and have high insulin levels and vice versa. Combined, they can cause miscarriage and infertility.

Dr. Tim O’Dowd - ‘PCOS and Insulin Resistance: A lifetime of opportunities'

4. Inflammation in the body

Women with PCOS are at a greater risk of elevated levels of CRP 4(C-Reactive Protein) than others, and you can manage it by opting for a healthy diet once you notice the physical signs of PCOS.

What Are The First Signs of PCOS?

There are many noticeable symptoms of PCOS, and it would be better to know what are the first signs of PCOS symptoms so that you know how to take care of yourself as soon as you are PCOS diagnosed.

1. Darkened skin

close up portrait red hair woman
Photo by Erik Mclean on Unsplash

Women with PCOS often have skin problems, and this darkening of the skin is commonly found in areas behind the neck, inner thighs, and between the breasts.

The darkened skin that occurs with PCOS is different, and it is called Acanthosis Nigricans, and it becomes noticeable when it happens on the face.

If you want to know what are the first signs of PCOS, darkened skin is one of them.

2. Depression

There might be depression symptoms in any woman, and it can negatively affect women’s health if they do not treat PCOS in time.

There are various reasons why women with PCOS are at risk of having depression, an imbalance in sex hormones, a high level of excess androgens or male sex hormones, their inability to deal with weight gain, abnormal hair growth, difficulty in conceiving, infertility, and other symptoms can take a toll on their mental health5.

3. Excess hair growth

Hirsutism or excess hair growth is one of the common symptoms of PCOS and an important one to look for.

Excess hair growth on the face and body can be uncomfortable, and it occurs mostly on the face, chin, upper lips, neck, chest, stomach, and back. The body will produce androgens that can lead to abnormal hair growth.

Though excess hair growth is one of the common disturbing symptoms of PCOS, you might not have PCOS because of that. Many women can be hairy because it can be hereditary.

4. Tiredness

PCOS causes tiredness, and many women with PCOS complain of tiredness. The best way to deal with this is to follow a healthy diet and drink lots of water.

PCOS can also mess with your sleep patterns causing tiredness and fatigue.

5. Headaches

PCOS can cause headaches, and it happens due to hormone imbalances and fluctuations. Many of them might also suffer from migraine headaches.

5 Things Your Gynecologist Wants You To Know: PCOS Misconceptions

6. Heavy bleeding

Women with PCOS sometimes have a heavy menstrual cycle, and the severe bleeding can last for days.

This condition is known as menorrhagia due to the low levels of progesterone associated with PCOS. In this condition, the duration of your menstrual cycle6 can be more than seven days.

7. Inability to lose weight

Many women with PCOS tend to experience weight gain. PCOS can play with your hormones and metabolism.

Those with PCOS have insulin resistance due to difficulty pulling glucose from the bloodstream and converting it to energy. High insulin levels also explain why women with PCOS are hungry all the time, and these cravings are one of the reasons they cannot lose weight.

8. Irregular menstrual periods

Since PCOS causes problems to your ovaries, irregular periods, frequent periods, or missed periods can happen.

If you have irregular periods, missed periods, or your menstrual cycle changes every month, it is better to consult a medical practitioner. A physical examination will be the best way to see if you have Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, PCOS, and get treated for it.

9. Severe acne

By Vichizh/unlimphotos.com Copyright 2022.

If you are looking for what are the first signs of PCOS, then severe acne can be one of the signs you can look for.

Testerone, androgen levels, and insulin stimulate the sebaceous glands and make oily skin due to excess oil production. The pores get clogged with the oil that causes acne.

10. Skin Tags

Another condition that is common when you have PCOS is skin tags. The thickened skin lumps occur along the bra line, on the armpits, and on the neck.

The hormonal imbalance can lead to the development of skin tags, which can be inconvenient. It is better to contact a doctor and get it removed, though the skin tags are not cancerous or dangerous.

11. Weight gain

There are many reasons for weight gain; when you have PCOS, your metabolism will become sluggish, and if you are one of those suffering from depression and mood swings due to PCOS, then there are chances you might gain weight.

Many women with PCOS indulge in binge eating, causing them to gain weight. Insulin resistance is another reason that can add to your gaining weight if you have PCOS.

PCOS Exercise To Lose Weight [At Home]


It is essential that if diagnosed with PCOS and you know what the first signs of PCOS are, it should be treated properly. If you have male pattern baldness, difficulty conceiving, constant menstrual problems, hair loss, and thinning hair, it will be better to get checked for PCOS.

If left untreated, Polycystic Ovary Syndrome PCOS can prove to be dangerous. There is an increased risk of breast cancer, endometrial cancer, infertility, and conditions like high blood pressure, diabetes, and heart disease, all linked to obesity. It is better to go for specific medical advice and take care of your health conditions if you have been PCOS diagnosed.

Following a healthy diet will be helpful if you have been diagnosed with PCOS or have a medical history. Birth control pills will help women with PCOS because they will first make the menstrual cycles regular and secondly help slow hair growth and acne, but it is not a permanent solution. You can even try cosmetic treatments if you have Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome.

Treat PCOS with the help of a medical practitioner who will be able to guide you effectively. Research suggests PCOS should be treated with the help of a medical professional so that the menstrual periods are regular.

Best Exercise For PCOS (Weight Loss + Low Impact + Hormone Balance)


Q. How does PCOS usually start?
  • The exact cause of PCOS is unknown. There’s evidence that genetics play a role. Several other factors, most importantly obesity, also play a role in causing PCOS: Higher levels of male hormones called androgens: High androgen levels prevent your ovaries from releasing eggs, which causes irregular menstrual cycles.
Q. Does PCOS start suddenly?
  • It’s common for women to find out they have PCOS when they have trouble getting pregnant, but it often begins soon after the first menstrual period, as young as age 11 or 12. It can also develop in the 20s or 30s.
Q. What does PCOS belly look like?
  • Localized fat accumulation: Fat tends to concentrate around the lower abdomen, giving a rounded or protruding appearance. Harder and firmer: Unlike regular belly fat, PCOS belly may feel more solid to the touch due to visceral fat accumulation.

If you liked this article, here is something more.

  1. Hoeger, Kathleen M., Anuja Dokras, and Terhi Piltonen. “Update on PCOS: consequences, challenges, and guiding treatment.” The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism 106.3 (2021): e1071-e1083. ↩︎
  2. Dwyer, Jennifer B., et al. “Hormonal treatments for major depressive disorder: state of the art.” American Journal of Psychiatry 177.8 (2020): 686-705. ↩︎
  3. Kanczkowski, Waldemar, Felix Beuschlein, and Stefan R. Bornstein. “Is there a role for the adrenal glands in long COVID?.” Nature Reviews Endocrinology 18.8 (2022): 451-452. ↩︎
  4. Chen, Wei, et al. “Plasma CRP level is positively associated with the severity of COVID-19.” Annals of clinical microbiology and antimicrobials 19.1 (2020): 1-7. ↩︎
  5. Moreno, Carmen, et al. “How mental health care should change as a consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic.” The lancet psychiatry 7.9 (2020): 813-824. ↩︎
  6. Thiyagarajan, Dhanalakshmi K., Hajira Basit, and Rebecca Jeanmonod. “Physiology, menstrual cycle.” StatPearls [Internet]. StatPearls Publishing, 2022. ↩︎

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