What is PCOS?

I was about 15 when the nurses told me what was wrong. I’d had some scans done at the hospital after a Dr’s appointment left me with some unanswered questions regarding why my periods were so irregular. After seeing some abnormalities (cysts) on my ovaries combined with the other symtoms such as a low mood and painful periods when, once in a blue moon, I’d have one, the nurses concluded what it was. Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, or PCOS for short.

In a nutshell:

  • PCOS affects 5-10% of women worldwide.
  • The syndrome is present throughout a woman’s life.
  • Women with PCOS have to tackle an array of health issues such as irregular menstruation, infertility, depression, acne and anxiety.
  • Two out of the three features must be detected in order to be diagnosed with PCOS: Oligo (anovulation) Hyperandrogenism (clinical or biochemical) and Polycystic Ovaries visible on an ultra sound.
  • PCOS has three well-known traits; obesity, fertility issues, and hair/skin problems. Most women with PCOS have a combination of symptoms. For example, you may have irregular menstruation and bad skin but be slim, or you could have cysts on the ovaries, weight problems but not hirsutism (unusual hair growth).

Understanding PCOS :

PCOS causes a disruption in a woman’s normal hormone cycles. Hormone production by the ovaries becomes out of balance, producing higher than normal amounts of androgens (the male sex hormone). This can cause acne, weight gain, and excess body and facial hair but thinning of hair on the head. That said, physical changes are not the only concern with PCOS. Unbalanced hormones can make it more difficult to have children because ovulation may stop. Underdeveloped eggs in the ovaries lead to the formation of cysts. Women who do get pregnant may have in increased risk of miscarriage. In most cases, the first symptoms of PCOS are the physical ones – and I truly empathise because affected women can feel less beautiful due to the shifts in her weight and overall appearance. Other unpleasant symptoms can include heavy periods or no periods at all, pelvic pain, and a decrease in breast size. Depression is also a common problem in women with PCOS.

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So ok, I’ll have this condition for the rest of my life and yes, certain elements of it really suck, but it isn’t all as bad as it seems. There are ways to take control of the symtoms, loads of information online and the fertility treatments out there that are constantly being researched and made even better. If you have PCOS or are just interested in learning more about it then check out some of my other posts in this category.

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