Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a lifelong condition that affects fertility and increases the risk of serious health problems. The Penn Medicine PCOS Center provides personalized support for women affected by this condition. We bring together specialists from a variety of fields to address all of your health concerns.
What Is PCOS?
PCOS is a hormone (endocrine) disorder that affects one in 10 women of childbearing age. It's a lifelong condition that begins during the teen years.
An imbalance of estrogen and progesterone affects the ovaries, including the development and release of eggs. This hormone imbalance causes problems with menstruation and your ability to get pregnant.
Penn PCOS Center: Why Choose Us?
PCOS causes a variety of symptoms and health problems. The condition affects every woman differently. We perform a thorough health assessment and learn how PCOS affects your life.
You receive comprehensive care from a team of specialists. Our experts work together to create a personalized treatment plan that meets all of your health care needs. Meet our PCOS team.
We offer services for:
Hormonal imbalances and irregular periods
Hormonal birth control, such as the pill, implants and intrauterine devices (IUDs), relieve many PCOS symptoms. They make periods more regular, clear up acne and minimize facial hair.
Contraceptives with estrogen and progesterone can also lower your risk of endometrial cancer. Women with PCOS have a higher risk of developing this cancer, which forms in the lining of the uterus. Should you develop endometrial cancer, you receive care from specialists at the Penn Gynecologic Oncology Program.
We also prescribe medications to reduce the effects of androgen. Women with PCOS produce higher-than-usual amounts of this hormone. High androgen levels interfere with your periods. Androgen also fuels facial hair growth and acne.
PCOS is a top cause of infertility in women. But many women with PCOS get pregnant. We may prescribe medication to stimulate ovulation. If you need more help conceiving, Penn Fertility Care offers in vitro fertilization (IVF) and other options.
Acne, skin problems and facial hair
Penn Dermatology experts provide treatments for these common PCOS symptoms:
- Acne on the face, chest and back
- Darkened skin along neck creases, under the breasts and in the groin area
- Skin tags (small flaps of skin that form on the armpits and neck)
- Unwanted facial hair (hirsutism)
Depression and anxiety
Living with a chronic condition like PCOS can take a toll on your mental health. Many women with PCOS experience depression or anxiety. Specialists at the Penn Center for Women's Behavioral Wellness provide mental health support.
PCOS lowers your sensitivity to insulin, a hormone that regulates blood sugar (glucose). Insulin resistance increases your chances of diabetes. More than half of women with PCOS develop some form of diabetes before age 40. Type 2 diabetes is the most common.
You receive care from specialists at the Rodebaugh Diabetes Center. U.S. News & World Report ranks Diabetes & Endocrinology at the Hospitals of the University of Pennsylvania-Penn Presbyterian among the country's best.
High blood pressure and high cholesterol
PCOS raises blood pressure. It also increases unhealthy low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol while decreasing healthy high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol. High blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes lead to heart disease and strokes. We partner with Penn Women's Cardiovascular Health Program to protect your heart health.
Extra pounds and PCOS make you more prone to sleep apnea. This sleep disorder interrupts your nighttime breathing and raises your risk of heart problems. Experts at the Penn Sleep Centers help you get a healthy night's rest.
Higher levels of androgen and insulin make it easier to gain weight and harder to lose it. Excess weight affects fertility and contributes to health problems, including diabetes and heart disease. Experts at Penn Metabolic Medicine help you achieve and maintain a healthier weight.
Request an Appointment
To request an appointment, please call 800-789-7366 or complete our online form.