BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — September is Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) awareness month and local health experts are raising awareness with early detection and screenings in women.

PCOS is a common hormone disorder in women and is also the leading cause of female infertility. 

PCOS is one of the most underdiagnosed diseases in the world, with less than 30 percent of women with PCOS being diagnosed. According to the world health organization, 8 to 13 percent of women of childbearing age suffer from PCOS.

Gretchen McCreless, M.D., a gynecologist at Ascension St. Vincent, said that PCOS is a hormone issue that women experience during their reproductive years.

“The ovaries of these women tend to produce an excess androgen hormone, which is the male hormone for testosterone, and they experience symptoms that are related to that,” McCreless said. “A common complaint for women with PCOS is irregular menstrual cycles.”

McCreless said women with PCOS can also experience excess hair growth on their face, chest and abdomen, as well as acne, weight gain, obesity and infertility.   

“If we do an ultrasound, we often see a lot of immature egg follicles or cysts on the ovaries, so it’s called polycystic,” McCreless said.

Health experts say treatment depends on age, symptoms and fertility desires. The most basic treatment is a change in diet and activity.  

A healthy diet and more physical activity can help with weight loss and reducing symptoms. These habits can also help the body use insulin more efficiently, lower blood glucose levels and may help a woman ovulate.

For more information, visit Ascension’s women’s health website.