The exact cause of PCOS is unknown, but it is thought to be related to an imbalance of the hormones involved in ovulation. In women with PCOS, the ovaries produce higher than normal levels of androgens. Androgens are male hormones that can interfere with the development and release of eggs from the ovaries (ovulation).
Factors that may increase your risk of PCOS include:
- Family history. If your mother or sister has PCOS, you're more likely to have it as well.
- Obesity. Excess weight can increase insulin resistance.
- Inflammation. Conditions such as endometriosis or chronic infections such as pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) can lead to inflammation that may play a role in the development of PCOS.
- Ethnicity. PCOS is more common in Hispanic and Latina women than in women of other ethnicities.
- Excess hair growth on the face, chest, stomach, back, thumbs, or toes (hirsutism)
- Weight gain
- Thinning hair on the scalp
- Oily skin or acne
- Darkening of the skin on the neck, breasts, inner thighs, or underarms
- Pelvic pain