A hormone imbalance that can result in irregular periods, unwanted hair growth, acne, extra weight gain, baldness, and patches of dark skin on the back of a woman’s neck and inner thighs. Nearly 1 of every 10 to 20 women have PCOS, and it tends to be especially common in young women. Cases can be mild or severe. Researchers still don’t know what causes PCOS, but they suspect insulin resistance may play a role. The symptoms of PCOS start when a woman’s pituitary makes too much leutinizing hormone (LH) and/or her pancreas makes too much insulin. This causes her ovaries to make more testosterone than her body needs, which helps explain the extra acne and body hair. Too much testosterone can also cause cyst-like structures in her ovaries. These aren’t so much cysts as they are immature follicles which started to develop but stopped before they could release an egg. The most common treatment for PCOS is the birth control pill, which lowers testosterone in a woman’s body, as well as diet and exercise. PCOS is also associated with diabetes and obesity, and can result in making it difficult to conceive. Consultation with an endocrinologist who specializes in PCOS is highly advisable.