This condition is found in 5 to 10% of all women. 75% of cases are seen in obese women and 25% are seen in lean women. There is a familial or hereditary component, in that sisters of affected individuals also have this condition. It is characterized by an altered gene near the insulin receptor at chromosome 19.
Weight gain is a predisposing factor and is associated with insulin resistance and chronic androgenic (long-term testosterone dominance) with lack of ovulation. Because of androgen dominance a feature of PCOS is hirsutism (increased facial and male type hair pattern). Also, due to the insulin resistance, there could be metabolic syndrome (please see the post on this) and increased risk of type 2 diabetes.
Because of these last two conditions there can also be sleep disorders (please see the related post) and cardiovascular disease (please see the post about heart disease in women). Most women who have PCOS present with infertility, although sometimes thyroid problems and high blood pressure can be present. Blood tests of hormones and ultrasound are used for diagnosis. Treatment is directed at weight loss, caloric restriction, restoration of normal hormonal function and lipid metabolism.