Doctors don't know what causes polycystic ovary syndrome, but these factors may play a role:

  • Excess insulin. Insulin is the hormone produced in the pancreas that allows cells to use sugar (glucose) — your body's primary energy supply. If you have insulin resistance, your ability to use insulin effectively is impaired, and your pancreas has to secrete more insulin to make glucose available to cells. Excess insulin might also affect the ovaries by increasing androgen production, which may interfere with the ovaries' ability to ovulate.
  • Low-grade inflammation. Your body's white blood cells produce substances to fight infection in a response called inflammation. Research has shown that women with PCOS have low-grade inflammation and that this type of low-grade inflammation stimulates polycystic ovaries to produce androgens.
  • Heredity. If your mother or sister has PCOS, you might have a greater chance of having it, too. Researchers also are looking into the possibility that certain genes are linked to PCOS.
Sep. 03, 2014

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