There are a few things that you should know about PCOS. Firstly, it affects a large number of females, and it is chronically underdiagnosed. Next, there is treatment if you do suffer from it – and the earlier you get it, the more comfortable you will be. Here’s an overview of all the things that you should know about PCOS, made simple.
1. What is PCOS?
One of the first things that you should know about PCOS is what the condition actually is. Although it’s usually referred to as PCOS, the full name for this condition is Polycystic Ovary Syndrome. It’s an endocrine condition, which means it affects your hormone levels.
2. What Are the Symptoms of PCOS?
The most common symptom of PCOS are enlarged, fluid-filled cysts on the ovaries. It’s very important to remember that these are a symptom, though, and they do not cause PCOS! Other common symptoms include irregular periods, cystic acne, coarse body hair and hair-thinning, although there is a wide variety of symptoms and most sufferers won’t have them all.
3. How Does PCOS Affect Periods?
People with PCOS usually suffer from irregular periods. This can mean that they are infrequent, rather than once a month, or unpredictable. You might also suffer from very heavy periods or find that your periods last varying lengths. Some people with PCOS have relatively normal and regular periods, although this is less common.
4. What Causes PCOS?
Nobody knows what causes PCOS. There is a whole host of theories and studies, but nobody has actually identified the cause. The most commonly held belief is that PCOS might be hereditary, which means that if your mum or older sisters suffer, you are likely to as well.
5. What Does Having PCOS Mean?
PCOS isn’t fatal – it’s not going to kill you! In the worst case, it can lead to sufferers developing other conditions such as diabetes. Otherwise, people with PCOS can find conceiving difficult and may suffer from abnormal bleeding, uterine cancer or cholesterol complications. Sleep apnea is also commonly linked with PCOS.
6. How is PCOS Diagnosed?
PCOS needs to be diagnosed by a doctor, so your first step is to see your doctor and explain your symptoms. Your doctor may order a pelvic exam, conduct blood tests or order an ultrasound. They may do all three. While an ultrasound is not a reliable way to diagnose PCOS, it will show whether your ovaries are looking enlarged, which is a helpful indicator. You will also be able to talk to your doctor about your medical history, including any medications that you take and whether your family suffers from PCOS. This will help your doctor to assess risks.
7. How is PCOS Treated?
One of the most important things that you need to know about PCOS is how the condition is treated. Treatment will depend on your specific case and on your symptoms. If you have irregular periods, for example, your doctor might suggest birth control that can help to regulate these. For acne, you can be referred to a dermatologist who will prescribe stronger medications. For obesity, your doctor will recommend a diet and fitness program, or refer you to a local scheme.
One of the biggest complaints from people being treated for PCOS is that they feel alone and let down, and didn’t realize that they could get help. That’s why it’s so important to learn these things that you should know about PCOS, and get yourself out if you’re exhibiting symptoms. Up to 10% of women have PCOS, so you’re definitely not alone! Do you have PCOS?