What is PCOS?

What is PCOS?

I have recently been diagnosed with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (aka PCOS). PCOS is a very common hormonal disorder among women of reproductive age, an estimated 1 out of 10 (some sites claim 1 out of 5) women have PCOS, and yet not much is known about this condition.

Genetic links have been found, so if someone your family has PCOS, there is a chance that you may have it or a possibility that your children could have it. It can be passed down from either side of the family, so if your father's mother had it, then you could have it too, it's not just women that pass on this disorder, but only women are affected by PCOS.

Most women do not know they have PCOS until they are trying for a baby because it is a common cause of infertility. However, even if you are not trying to conceive yet, it is good to know if you have PCOS because it can increase your risks of diabetes and heart disease. You also have a higher risk of high blood pressure and high levels of LDL (bad) cholesterol. Knowing you have PCOS will allow you to help prevent these risks because you will be able to modify your diet and exercise in order to help with symptoms.

Is there a cure? 

There is no cure for PCOS (despite what some bloggers will claim), but it can be managed by a healthy lifestyle or with medication, so the sooner you know the sooner you can find ways to lessen its symptoms.

What are the symptoms?

Some common signs for PCOS are irregular periods and/or body hair that is typically only found on men (this could be due to genetics, but it could also be PCOS because women with PCOS tend to have more testosterone). Another sign is multiple cysts on your ovaries, which can only be seen through an ultrasound (which is a very unpleasant experience).

These are the top three indicators of PCOS that doctors look for, but there are other signs such as acne, extreme period pain/cramping, obesity, or if you have trouble losing weight. If you think you might have PCOS, talk to your doctor. 

Besides physical symptoms, women with PCOS also may suffer from depression, anxiety, and eating disorders. 

It is a hidden disorder that goes unnoticed in too many women. The sooner you find out, the faster you are able to start managing symptoms.

Other complications associated with PCOS:

  • Infertility
  • Gestational diabetes 
  • Miscarriage 
  • Nonalcoholic steatohepatitis
  • Metabolic syndrome 
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Sleep apnea
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Eating disorders
  • Abnormal uterine bleeding
  • Endometrial cancer
  • Obesity