So, you have been diagnosed with PCOS and are still unsure about what it means exactly? Don’t worry you are not alone! It can be challenging to live with PCOS but learning more about the condition and how it affects you will help you lead a better life.
1. Syndrome: Let’s talk about PCOS!
Around the world, between 8% and 13% of women of reproductive age suffer from PCOS, making it one of the most prevalent conditions and the most frequent endocrine disorder among women.
Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) is a hormonal imbalance, which can affect your body more than you might think. The word “polycystic” originated from the phrase “many cysts.”, since women with PCOS often have cysts in their ovaries. Ovaries are reproductive organs and produce the progesterone and estrogen required for the monthly cycle. They also produce a small amount of androgen, or male hormones, which are typical. However, PCOS patients may have higher levels than the majority of women, which can be problematic.
2. Diagnosis: Why was I diagnosed?
When the medical care provider observed two of the following three symptoms:
- Irregular menstrual cycle
- High androgens levels
- Polycystic ovaries
3. Symptoms: How does it affect me?
PCOS affects not only the reproductive system, but also the metabolic and psychological well being. You may have struggled with getting pregnant or with irregular menstruation until your diagnosis. Not all patients will suffer all of the primary symptoms, which may vary by age or ethnic background. Some women, however, begin to exhibit symptoms even as early as their first period.
- Less frequent, too light, or too heavy, irregular or no periods
- Trouble getting pregnant
- Excessive hair growth on the face, limbs, back and arms
- Excessive acne
- Excessive skin on the neck and armpits
4. Consequences, that are crucial to know:
Women with PCOS have a higher risk of endometrial cancer, miscarriage, hypertension, and preeclampsia. In addition, PCOS was linked to insulin resistance, glucose intolerance, cardiometabolic illness, sleep apnea, and diabetes. Although not everyone is impacted, you should still look into testing options just to be sure. PCOS can also impact psychological well being. It is often accompanied by psychiatric disorders, like depression , anxiety, an eating disorder and problems with body image. So, don’t hesitate to reach out if you are struggling.
5. Treatment: What can be done about it?
At this point only symptoms can be treated but doing so will enable you to live a healthier and more fulfilling life. PCOS can be managed properly. There are many different PCOS treatment options available, so you can decide which one is best for you. You can navigate between diets, workouts, supplements, psychotherapy, and medication. Just keep in mind that you need to work closely with a healthcare provider you trust and that it might take a while until you find the treatment solution for you. So, keep trying!
6. Heritability: Your relatives might be affected too!
You should ask your family members to be tested by a healthcare provider, as well. Sisters and mothers of patients with PCOS have been found to have a 24% and 32% higher risk of also having PCOS.
To conclude, PCOS is a serious disorder that affects many women worldwide, yet it is still not well known. Most PCOS patients only get treatment after the onset of severe symptoms like infertility or metabolic complications. This is the reason why we all should put more emphasis on awareness of this disorder, so more women can see the signs and look for proper treatment early on.
If you think that you can benefit from professional support on this issue you can reach out here.
Lisa Zach is an intern at Willingness and currently pursuing her master’s degree in clinical psychology. As an aspiring therapist, researcher, and educator, she is particularly interested in action-oriented research, advocacy, and holistic approaches to mental health.
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