Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) affects 5-10% of the female population. It is the most common endocrine disorder affecting women – more common than diabetes. Some of the most common symptoms are irregular periods, excess body or facial hair, acne and difficulty maintaining a healthy weight. It may also be associated with depression, difficulty getting pregnant, predisposition to type 2 diabetes and other long-term health problems.
The UCSF Multidisciplinary PCOS Clinic offers an integrated approach to treating polycystic ovarian syndrome. Our patients see a team of specialists in reproductive endocrinology, dermatology, nutrition, psychology and genetics. We work together with each patient to create an individualized treatment plan that will work for her. We are also developing a psycho-educational group and exercise program series for women who would like to start integrating exercise into their lives.
Patients are also welcome to participate in our PCOS research program, which will help us understand the cause of PCOS and the best methods of treatment.
The UCSF Multidisciplinary PCOS Clinic offers an integrated approach to treating polycystic ovarian syndrome. Our patients see a team of specialists in reproductive endocrinology, dermatology, nutrition, psychology and genetics. Our team approach translates to better care for each patient, taking into account her individual needs and circumstances.
We are proud to be part of the UCSF National Center of Excellence in Women's Health, a designation granted by the federal Office of Women's Health. This distinguishes our program as a model for improving health services for women.
We are also one of the specialty clinics in the comprehensive UCSF Women's Health program. UCSF Women's Health offers health care for women at each stage of life from adolescence through menopause and beyond.
Marcelle I. Cedars, MD – Director, Division of Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility
Heather Huddleston, MD – Director of the PCOS Clinic
Shinkai Kanade, MD – Dermatologist
Lauri A. Pasch, PhD – Psychologist
Janine Mash, CGC – Genetic Counselor
Natalya Spivak, CGC – Genetic Counselor
Mary Ellen DiPaola, RD, CDE – Registered Dietitian
The clinic consists of two standard visits. Patients are first seen on a Thursday morning by the reproductive endocrinologist, dermatologist and genetic counselor. The team meets to formalize a plan and recommendations for care, which are discussed with each patient by the reproductive endocrinologist at the follow-up appointment (typically scheduled the following Thursday), where patients also meet the clinical psychologist and the dietitian. The clinic provides a plan and recommendations for the patient and her general doctor to follow, as well as any specialist referrals.
Appointments can be scheduled by contacting the UCSF PCOS coordinator at (415) 885-3674.
We are located at:
499 Illinois Street, 6th Floor
San Francisco, CA 94158
What is Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome?
Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) is one of the most common disorders of the endocrine system affecting women of reproductive age. The endocrine system regulates and secretes hormones throughout the body. PCOS is often associated with hormone irregularities. The exact cause of PCOS is unknown. It may be due to a combination of several factors, including insulin resistance, obesity, and changes in hormone production.
PCOS is considered a syndrome because the signs and symptoms vary from woman to woman.
With PCOS, the body produces higher levels of androgen, or “male” hormones. These high levels of androgens prevent the ovaries from making enough progesterone, which is necessary for a normal menstrual cycle. Estrogen hormone levels are usually normal. The higher levels of androgens and lower levels of progesterone result in undeveloped egg follicles. As a result, ovulation cannot occur and the immature follicles turn into small cysts in the ovaries.
How common is it?
PCOS affects approximately 5-10% of women who are of childbearing age, however, about 30% of women have at least some characteristics of the syndrome. It is the most common endocrine disorder among pre-menopausal women.
What causes PCOS?
The exact cause of PCOS is unknown, although researchers are currently looking for a genetic link among families. In addition, many current studies are focusing on insulin resistance as a potential cause of the syndrome. Insulin resistance describes the body's inability to utilize the hormone insulin efficiently. Present data suggests that elevated insulin levels may cause increased levels of androgens and worsening PCOS symptoms.
Who’s at risk?
There appears to be a hereditary component to PCOS, and women who have female relatives with PCOS may be at a higher risk for developing the syndrome themselves. Obese women can also be predisposed to PCOS. Women who are diabetic have problems with their adrenal glands, thyroid gland, or pituitary gland can develop symptoms of PCOS, but may not have the syndrome. A woman with PCOS will usually develop symptoms within a few years of puberty, though sometimes the syndrome appears later in life.
Is there a cure?
There is currently no cure for PCOS; it is managed on a long-term basis. Most women are able to manage the syndrome through a healthy, well-balanced lifestyle.
Does it get worse over time?
Symptoms may worsen during a woman's prime reproductive years, ages 20-40. This is particularly seen in women who gain a significant amount of weight. As women near menopause, however, the severity of symptoms can subside.
Healing Syndrome O: A Strategic Guide to Fertility, Polycystic Ovaries, and Insulin Imbalance, Ronald Feinberg, MD, PhD
Positive Options for PCOS, Christine Craggs-Hinton, Adam Balen, MD
PCOS: The Hidden Epidemic, Samuel S. Thatcher, MD, PhD
Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome: Fighting Back! , Angela Kay Dotson
What to Do When the Doctor Says It's PCOS, Milton Hammerly, MD, Cheryl Kimball
PCOS: A Woman's Guide to Dealing with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, Colette Harris, Adam Carey
Living with PCOS, Angela Boss, Evelina Weidman Sterling, Richard S. Legro, MD
PCOS and Your Fertility, Colette Harris with Theresa Cheung
PCOS Diet Book, Colette Harris with Theresa Cheung
Women and Unwanted Hair, Sarah M. Rosenthal, PhD
|The UCSF Center for Reproductive Health, located in Northern California's San Francisco Bay Area offers a comprehensive array of infertility evaluation and treatment options for both men and women. Our services include: Infertility Evaluation, Male Reproductive Health, Fertility Preservation, Reproductive Surgery, Tubal Reversal Surgery, In Vitro Fertilization (IVF), Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI), Pre-implantation Genetic Diagnosis (PGD), Intrauterine Insemination (IUI), Ovulation Induction, Donor Sperm Insemination, Egg Donor Program for Donors, Egg Donor Program for Recipients, Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS), Recurrent Pregnancy Loss, Gestational Surrogacy, Genetic Screening and Counseling Psychological Support.|