Everything you need to know about PCOS

Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) is one of the most common hormonal disorders in women, and yet so many who have it are never diagnosed.

In this blog, we’re going to dive into what exactly PCOS is, the symptoms to look out for, and the common misconceptions.

What is Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)?

Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a condition that affects how a woman’s ovaries work. Contrary to what many believe, PCOS is actually very common, affecting around 1 in 12 women.

The three main features of PCOS are:

  • cysts in the ovaries
  • irregular or skipped periods
  • high levels of male hormones

Common symptoms of PCOS

As with any disorder or illness, PCOS comes with a number of different symptoms and signs, but that doesn’t mean someone with PCOS experiences all of them. 

1. Irregular periods

PCOS often throws a curveball at your menstrual cycle. Instead of the predictable monthly visit from Mother Nature, your periods might become irregular, unpredictable, or even disappear altogether.

 

2. Hormonal acne and skin issues

Your skin might decide to rebel, with hormonal acne making an uninvited appearance. Skin tags and dark patches are also common symptoms that your body might be dropping hints about PCOS.

 

3. Unwanted hair growth

If you suddenly find yourself in a battle against unexpected facial or body hair, PCOS might be behind it. This excessive hair growth, known as hirsutism, is often triggered by elevated levels of androgens, the so-called “male hormones.”

 

4. Weight fluctuations

PCOS can be a contributor to weight gain, especially around the waistline. Insulin resistance, a common companion of PCOS, plays a role in these weight fluctuations and can make losing weight more challenging.

 

5. Fertility challenges

For those dreaming of starting a family, PCOS can add an extra layer of complexity. Irregular ovulation, a common consequence of the hormonal imbalance, can make conceiving more difficult.

Common misconceptions about PCOS

Myth 1: PCOS is only about cysts on the ovaries

The name itself can be misleading. While “cysts” are part of the term, not all individuals with PCOS develop ovarian cysts. Instead, it’s the hormonal imbalances and their effects on the menstrual cycle that define PCOS.

Myth 2: Only overweight individuals have PCOS

PCOS doesn’t discriminate based on body size. While insulin resistance and weight gain are associated with PCOS, individuals of any size can be affected.

Myth 3: PCOS is just a reproductive issue

PCOS doesn’t limit its impact to reproductive matters. It can have broader implications for your overall health. The increased risk of type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular issues, and endometrial cancer are all part of PCOS.

Myth 4: Birth control pills can cure PCOS

While birth control pills can help manage certain symptoms of PCOS, such as regulating periods and reducing acne, they don’t “cure” the condition. They provide relief by addressing specific symptoms but don’t address the root hormonal imbalances.

If you suspect you may have PCOS or are experiencing symptoms, seeking guidance from healthcare professionals is key. With so many misconceptions, it’s important to stand up for yourself and your symptoms to get the answers you need. 

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