Hello, PCO(polycystic ovaries) refers to an ultrasound scan image of the ovaries that appear to be polycystic (ovaries containing high density of partially mature follicles).
PCOS is a metabolic condition that may or may not come with having polycystic ovaries.In fact, to be diagnosed with PCOS a woman needs to have 2 of the following: 1) Polycystic ovaries appear on ultrasound. 2) Irregular periods. 3) Increased male hormone in the blood test or associated symptoms such as extra hair growth or acne. So if a woman has irregular periods and an increased male hormone she could have PCOS without her ovaries being polycystic. However, other conditions such as thyroid or pituitary dysfunction need to be excluded before PCOS diagnosis is made.
Although there may be some similarities in the names, the risks and medical treatments are very different for these 2 situations. PCO is a normal variant of a woman’s ovary, whereas PCOS is a diagnosed condition with short and long-term consequences.