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Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is something quite different to suffering from multiple ovarian cysts and having polycystic ovaries. Polycystic ovaries are ovaries covered with very small follicles in which the egg develops. In each menstrual cycle, follicles grow on the ovaries. Within those follicles eggs develop, one of which will reach maturity faster than the others and will be released into the fallopian tubes, which happens during ovulation. The remaining follicles will degenerate, but in the case of polycystic ovaries, they are much larger than normal. There are also series of undeveloped follicles that appear in clumps. The majority of women who suffer from PCOS will grow these small cysts on their ovaries, and this is why the condition is called polycystic ovary syndrome. These cysts are not harmful but they do lead to hormonal imbalances; a woman with PCOS produces excessive quantities of male hormones called androgens. However, the development of multiple cysts is not the only symptom of PCOS. 
On the other hand, polycystic ovaries, not polycystic ovary syndrome, are not particularly troublesome and in many cases, and they do not affect fertility. The problem starts when these cysts cause a hormonal imbalance, and this leads to a series of other symptoms. These symptoms are the difference between suffering from polycystic ovary syndrome and having polycystic ovaries.
A woman can have polycystic ovaries without having PCOS, but the vast majority of women with PCOS do have polycystic ovaries. However, it is possible to be diagnosed with the PCOS without having polycystic ovaries, because many PCOS symptoms are the result of high levels of androgens.
What is polycystic ovary syndrome?
Polycystic ovary syndrome is a hormone imbalance that can cause irregular periods, unwanted hair growth, and acne.
PCOS is a common condition, yet many doctors are not sufficiently enlightened about it to be able to readily make a diagnosis. It seems that women are failing to describe all their symptoms at consultation, as well. Given that, it is easy to understand why they are likely to experience such seemingly unrelated problems as facial hair, acne, and irregular periods. The symptoms of this complex condition are there because of a hormonal imbalance.
There are varieties of approaches to treatment, which may differ over time depending on the needs of the individual patient. Practitioners of orthodox medicine frequently advise taking contraceptive pills and even other hormone preparations. These preparations can work to great effect and are discussed by many doctors. However, these therapies do not provide a cure for PCOS. In fact, PCOS is a common problem among young women, where almost one out in ten has PCOS.