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PCOS is short for polycystic ovarian syndrome, a common hormonal disorder in women of reproductive age. Women with PCOS may or may not have cysts on their ovaries, but most likely have symptoms of excess testosterone activity. Testosterone is a hormone seen in high levels in normal males and lower levels in normal females. Even very mild elevations of testosterone in women can cause symptoms, which include irregular menstrual cycles (too often or too far apart), abnormal body hair growth (e.g. on chin, chest, abdomen), severe acne, or deepening of the voice. There can be correlations with glucose metabolism and insulin sensitivity in some affected women (possibly increasing the risk of developing diabetes). Untreated PCOS can increase the risk of endometrial cancer for some women. Fortunately, there are several medication strategies for managing PCOS which usually control symptoms and long-term risks successfully.
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