By BSc, MSc (embryologist).
Last Update: 12/22/2014

Polycystic ovaries appear when the follicles are unable to release an egg from their inside. As a result, after performing an ultrasound scan of the ovaries, several cysts can be seen.

The different sections of this article have been assembled into the following table of contents.

Definition

A woman may be diagnosed with polycystic ovaries when there are several large follicles with a minimum measure of 10 mm.

Oftentimes, polycystic ovaries are due to the fact that a smaller follicle has not developed as expected. This can happen to every woman as is considered normal.

For this to be considered as a polycystic ovary, there should be at least eight large follicles unable to release the oocyte.

As for the Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS), the follicles might not be able to release an egg due to hormonal irregularities. Women with PCOS have higher levels of androgens, which can alter their menstrual cycle. This can hinder or even prevent ovulation.

Function of androgens

Androgens are colloquially known as male sex hormones. Even though they are commonly associated with males, since they provide them with the secondary male sexual characteristics, women also have androgenic hormones.

In the case of women with PCOS, their androgen levels are higher than normal. If a woman with PCOS wishes to have children, she will have to visit her doctor to check her hormonal levels. Then, she will be provided with the most appropriate medication for her to ovulate.

Healthy habits

But we must do everything in our hands. Healthy habits are vital for the proper functioning of the hypothalamus-pituitary gland axis.

It is in charge of coordinating the ovarian cycle of women by regulating the hormones that are produced in the pituitary gland.

Thus, a balanced diet and weight loss might achieve that a woman with PCOS is able to ovulate normally. All women are different, which means that, for each and every one, some remedies can be more effective than others.

Home remedies

Natural remedies can be taken as an infusion or as vitamin supplements, but a healthy diet must also be followed.

Recent studies have proved that the hormonal levels of women with PCOS can improve by adapting their dietary habits, avoiding a diet rich in calories and consuming the most caloric food in the morning.

There are several aromatic herbs and plants that are beneficial during the ovarian cycle.

Vitex

Vitex agnus-castus, colloquially named vitex or Chaste tree, is a species typical from the Mediterranean area used to stabilize the menstrual cycle and commonly used in alternative medicine.

Black cohosh

Another suggestion is the black cohosh, a natural remedy for the menstrual problems traditionally used for women with menopause. However, it can help women with PCOS reduce their levels of LH.

Usually in PCOS there’s a high level of luteinizing hormone: it’s in these cases when black cohosh is most indicated.

Sabal

Another one would be sabal, also known as saw palmetto. This plant has been used by the Native Americans for centuries, to cure disorders related to the reproductive and urinary tract, in men and women.

As it has been stated, these women present high levels of androgenic hormones and sabal helps reduce them.

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Authors and contributors

 Cristina Mestre Ferrer
Cristina Mestre Ferrer
BSc, MSc
Embryologist
Bachelor's Degree in Biological Sciences, Genetics & Human Reproduction from the University of Valencia (UV). Master's Degree in Biotechnology of Human Assisted Reproduction from the UV and the Valencian Infertility Institute (IVI). Embryologist at IVI Barcelona. More information about Cristina Mestre Ferrer

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