By Clara Miret Lucio BSc, MSc (embryologist).
Last Update: 01/09/2015

Polycystic ovary and Polycystic Ovary Syndrome it’s NOT the same.

Here, the main focus will be the polycystic ovaries, diagnosed through ultrasound images, that may or may not present themselves with symptoms. Gynaecological advice it’s enough for their treatment.

The difference with the Polycystic Ovary Syndrome is that this one is an affection found out during the last century and characterised by obesity, anovulation and hyperandrogenism, in which endocrine and gynaecological advice are needed.

Follicles in the ovary

Polycystic ovary

Approximately between 25% and 30% of women have polycystic ovaries. The term polycystic doesn’t refer to “cysts in the ovary”, but to the high number of small follicles (more than eight smaller than 10mm) that can be found in the ovaries at rest. This number is very superior to the one found in normal ovaries. It’s genetically inherited and in the southern countries of Europe, among them Spain, women have more predisposition to have this kind of ovaries, due to the characteristics of their race.

These women ovulate, more or less regularly, and they don’t necessarily experience a fertility loss, which means that pregnancy is perfectly possible and there’s no reason why they should have any complication, as long as there’s ovulation. Controlling the menstrual cycles is important, and, if any suspicion arises, the gynaecologist should be consulted.

There aren’t always clear symptoms in women with polycystic ovaries, in most of the cases the condition is found out in a routine exploration and there have been no previous symptoms. However, it’s important to know the possible symptoms so that women learn how to take care of themselves and can avoid that the problem turns into Polycystic Ovary Syndrome.

Keeping fit
The possible and most worrying symptoms are:

  • Irregular menstruation (with delays).
  • More body and face hair, due to the presence of male hormones (androgenic hormone).
  • Acne, especially during puberty.
  • Higher tendency to obesity and to having high levels of cholesterol.
  • They are prone to develop diabetes. This higher tendency to diabetes can be linked to a resistance to insulin. Due to this, the pancreas produces a higher quantity of insulin to counteract the effect.

Advice to reduce the polycystic ovaries

Good habits are always recommended for the health and physical state of the individual, but in the case of women that suffer from polycystic ovaries, good nutritional habits can be considered as a treatment, since they bring extraordinary benefits.

Healthy nutritional habits and avoiding fatty components greatly improve the capacity to develop follicles and achieve that ovulations takes place normally.

Apart from the diet, it’s important to take into account that several researches point out the fact that consuming the greatest part of the dairy calories during the morning helps improve the altered hormonal levels, which would make that the ovulation takes place normally.

Doing moderate exercise is also recommended, since overweight may worsen the symptoms of cysts in the ovaries up to the point where the polycystic ovary syndrome would be developed, with all the implications thas this has on the health state.

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Authors and contributors

 Clara Miret Lucio
BSc, MSc
Bachelor's Degree in Pharmacy from the University of Valencia (UV). Master's Degree in Biotechnology of Human Assisted Reproduction from the UV. Experience as a pharmacist and embryologist specialized in Reproductive Medicine at Valencian Infertility Institute (IVI), and currently at Equipo Juana Crespo (Valencia, Spain). More information
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