PCOS myths Pt 1 – No cysts on your ovaries

During PCOS Awareness Week (05-12 November 2012), we will be busting up some of the common myths around polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS).  Here’s the first one, leave a comment below to let us know your thoughts, and whether you already knew the answer.

“If I don’t have cysts on my ovaries, I can’t have PCOS”
Dr Helen Mason, Senior Lecturer in Reproductive Endocrinology at St George’s University in London and Verity adviser says:

“First of all, the cysts are inside the ovary, not on the outside.  The diagnostic criteria for PCOS which were agreed a few years ago state that to have PCOS you have to have 2 out of 3 of the following:

  • Increased numbers of cysts / follicles on the ovaries
  • Irregular or absent menstrual cycles
  • L: Normal ovary    R: Polycystic ovary
  • Raised androgen or a clinical sign of this, such as hirsutism or acne

So the answer is that you can have PCOS without seeing cysts on the scan.  The problem with scanning is that it really is an art and not a hard science and cysts can be missed.  Plus, the appearance of the ovary can change.  If you have irregular cycles and acne / hirsutism, however, the chances are very good that you have PCOS.”