I Have PCOS. What Does That Mean?
Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, also as known and referred to as PCOS, is an endocrine disorder that affects women.
Hormones are the major issue at play with this condition. Hormone levels are often unbalanced and as a result, can wreak havoc on a woman’s body (more details below). Women with PCOS tend to have higher levels of male hormones (androgens). Hormones are so important because they regulate the entire body and all of its functions. It is estimated that 1 in 10 women have PCOS. It is one of the leading causes of female infertility.
Here are some common symptoms that signal you have PCOS or are undiagnosed and should be evaluated for PCOS.
Symptoms of PCOS include:
Cysts on the ovaries
Excess Facial Hair
Male pattern baldness or thinning hair
Dark patches of skin usually around the neck, thighs, breasts or arms
Depression and Anxiety
It is important to note that you do not have to have all of these symptoms to have PCOS. It affects every woman differently. So it is possible that you may have certain symptoms and not others. Also, my endocrinologist told me that you don’t have to have the stereotypical “cysts” to be labeled or diagnosed with PCOS.
The cause of PCOS is unknown. Though there is a belief that it has to do with genetics and is something you are born with. Some doctors feel that high levels of insulin in the blood are to blame. All of these ideas are theories at best. Until there are more scientific research findings to solidify evidence, anyone’s guess is as good as yours. At this point in time, there is no cure for it (I am hopeful with more time and awareness, we can figure why this happens to women).
PCOS doesn’t just display unappealing visual symptoms. There is a lot happening inside the body that is not observable. As a result, it is important to know you have PCOS as early as possible because women with PCOS are more at risk for several other diseases such as heart disease, strokes, diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, endometrial cancer, and difficulties getting pregnant and maintaining a pregnancy.
In my opinion, PCOS is hard to diagnose since it affects every woman differently and doctors aren’t well-educated on this condition. You have to advocate for yourself if you believe you have this disorder. A lot of doctors will not have the knowledge and will dismiss you. If that is the case, you need to find a new doctor, one that will listen and that understands PCOS. It might take several opinions to get diagnosed properly.
I know this is a lot of what seems like depressing information, but the first step is knowing that there is something wrong. You can’t fix something if you don’t know what to fix. Once you have the knowledge, you can manage it. Yes, you can get your PCOS under control and live the life you want to live.
To successfully manage your PCOS you are going to have to make some impactful changes. You will need to get on the healthy diet and exercise bandwagon. You need to avoid added sugars, processed foods and limit your carbs. Incorporate more vegetables, fruits, and whole foods into your diet. As for exercise, starting and establishing a daily routine will offer a host of benefits to you. Not sure where to start? I've taken the guesswork out of it for you and created a 7-day plan to get you started.
As for medications, yes there are options out there, but they don’t come without their side effects. I will leave the specifics on various medications to the professionals. My opinion would be to do your research and have a pointed discussion with your healthcare provider as to whether the pros outweigh the cons for you and your specific situation.
Yes, you may have PCOS, but PCOS does not define you!
You won’t only handle it; you can get it in check and have a fabulous life. You are not alone; you are beautiful, strong, and a force to be reckoned with. You are about to begin on your journey to becoming the best possible version of yourself.