Polycystic Ovary Syndrome

Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) is a common health condition that affects one in seven people who menstruate. The symptoms of PCOS include irregular periods and/or severe acne (pimples) or excess hair growing on different parts of your body such as your chin, neck, back and stomach.

While we are still unsure about the exact causes of PCOS, we know that it is a hormonal condition that is more common in families who have diabetes, and lifestyle (exercise and diet) can affect your chance of having PCOS. It can also be caused by being exposed to increased levels of hormones when you were developing in the womb.


I Have Irregular Periods – Do I Have PCOS?

It’s completely normal for your periods to be irregular in the first 12 months after you get your first period, and even up to three years after your first period. If you get your first period before age 12, it can take even longer for your periods to become regular. 


You should speak to a doctor (GP) if: 

  • It’s been less than 12 months since your first period and your periods are more than 3 months apart
  • It’s between 1 and 3 years since your first period and your periods are less than 21 days (3 weeks) or more than 45 days apart 
  • It’s been more than 3 years since your first period and your periods are less than 21 days or more than 35 days apart


Your GP may order some blood tests for you, or may decide that these are not required. It’s important to know that having an ultrasound done of your ovaries should not be used to diagnose PCOS if it’s been less than eight years since your first period, because it is very inaccurate at this stage. It can be difficult to diagnose PCOS if you are very young (<15) and there are also a few other reasons why your periods might be irregular (including being very stressed).  

For more information please go to https://www.monash.edu/medicine/sphpm/mchri/pcos/resources/resources-for-women-with-pcos. You can download useful information from this website, including a “Question Prompt List” that you can take when you see your GP or health professional, which helps you to ask questions so that you find out what you need to know.