When it comes to Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS), there are a hundred different running theories. And lots of confusion too!! It makes sense too, since PCOS symptoms can manifest in a variety of ways, making every single PCOS case different from the other. Don’t be surprised when even your doctor can’t always give you some straight answers!
Time to clear up some of those misconceptions out there regarding PCOS! Because there are so many assumptions made with PCOS, we want to weed out the facts from the fiction. Below are 12 surprising PCOS facts that every woman should know.
1. PCOS Is More Common Than You Think
Sometimes it may feel like you’re fighting a solo battle with PCOS, but trust us, you’re not alone. While statistics will tell you that 5-7% of reproductive-age women suffer from PCOS, most women only seek medical treatment upon anovulation (or lack of ovulation). This skews the numbers a bit. In fact, new research shows that many women with normal menses could also have PCOS. Scientists recently became convinced that there is a mild form of PCOS that includes women who have excess male-sex hormones and polycystic ovaries but whose ovulatory function is maintained. So you see; PCOS is way more common than you think, and can sometimes go undiagnosed for long too.
2. PCOS Is Treatable
Sadly, there’s no known cure for PCOS for the time being. But don’t be alarmed — while PCOS is not ‘curable’, it’s definitely ‘treatable’. Everything your doctor tells you is ways and means to manage PCOS symptoms. Usually, the treatment for PCOS is done through a combination of diet, lifestyle changes, exercise, medication, and supplements that work in synergy to normalize hormones, insulin levels and periods.
3. It’s Not Just Restricted To Your Ovaries
The name Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome can be misleading sometimes. Not every woman diagnosed with PCOS has cystic ovaries. Many women display symptoms of PCOS despite having normal ovaries with normal ovulation. Neither is PCOS a disease that’s restricted just to your ovaries. Yup, it may be the leading endocrine disorder in women and often the cause of infertility, making your ovaries the obvious victims here. But PCOS affects your overall health in a much bigger way, including heart health, liver health, and mental health. Plus it causes unexplained weight gain, depression, acne, unwanted hair growth and male-pattern baldness too.
4. The Symptoms Can Be Confusing
As we mention above, PCOS may go undiagnosed for a long time. Most women only seek treatment when they face irregular periods or have trouble getting pregnant, but PCOS can manifest in many other ways. Read our detailed list of 30 symptoms of PCOS to know more.
5. Insulin Function Is Critical For PCOS
Studies have found that approximately 50-70% of all women with PCOS may have some degree of insulin resistance. But even if you’re in the remaining 30% of women with PCOS who don’t have clinical insulin resistance, insulin function is something to be wary of. Why? Even if your body is not yet resistant to insulin, it’s still producing too much insulin, which is the reason your ovaries are producing all that extra testosterone – causing your PCOS symptoms. So, to manage your PCOS, you have to keep your insulin levels in control. And the best ways to do that is to adopt a PCOS diet and exercise regime.
6. Untreated PCOS Can Lead To Diabetes Type 2
PCOS can be a precursor to Diabetes Type 2. Scientists have long suspected a link between PCOS and diabetes, since both these conditions have a lot to do with insulin resistance. Research has found that PCOS is prevalent in up to 27% women with Diabetes Type 2. Scientific evidence suggests that women with PCOS have a unique disorder of insulin action, which increases their risk to develop adult-onset Diabetes Mellitus or Diabetes Type 2. Thankfully, you can prevent this by making diet and lifestyle changes right away.
7. You Can Lose Weight With PCOS
Many women with PCOS are overweight but it’s not for lack of trying. PCOS makes it easy for you to gain weight, and losing that weight can seem like a struggle. Yet, every doctor will tell you to lose the weight to see an improvement in your symptoms, without telling you HOW to lose that weight. Thankfully, it’s not impossible. The key here is to not just focus on traditional weight loss strategies, but to get your hormones and insulin resistance under control. Once you’ve addressed these underlying problems, weight loss with PCOS becomes very much achievable.
8. PCOS Needs Ongoing Care Even After Treatment
Even after you treat your PCOS, you will always be susceptible to insulin resistance. Because women with PCOS display fundamental changes in their pancreas, they will always struggle with regulating and processing insulin. This doesn’t change when you’re pregnant, nor does it change when you’ve hit menopause. Your PCOS symptoms do improve some post menopause, but your insulin resistance will not disappear overnight. The only way to keep insulin and hormone levels in check is to follow a healthy PCOS diet and lifestyle for life.
9. Acne Should Always Be Considered As An Early Warning Sign
Can’t seem to get rid of that perpetual acne? Regular spots and zits are a part and parcel of life, but if you’re noticing a regular pattern with your acne, PCOS could be the underlying cause. I know that it was one of the earliest signs of PCOS for me. Adult acne is almost always hormonal. The reason is elevated testosterone levels, which trigger your sebaceous glands to produce more oil. The oil gets trapped in dead skill cells and grime, leading to acne. Studies show that up to 45% of women with acne have PCOS, even when they may not display other common signs like menstrual disorders, obesity, or hirsutism.
10. PCOS Can Make You Really Tired and Exhausted
Always tired and exhausted? Fatigue is another common symptom of PCOS, thanks to the underlying low-grade chronic inflammation in the body. Also, if you notice that you are suddenly very tired just before your period, and have severe PMS symptoms like bloating, breast tenderness and abdominal pains, you could have PCOS. Thankfully, a healthy PCOS diet along with Omega 3 supplements that fight inflammation can be really helpful to treat PCOS fatigue.
11. PCOS Affects Your Mental Health Too
You may think that the only thing you have to worry about with PCOS is a few missed periods, some acne and trouble getting pregnant. But did you know that a PCOS diagnosis raises your risk to mental disorders? Studies have found that there’s a significant risk for mood disorders in women with polycystic ovary syndrome. PCOS can cause depression, anxiety, and even eating disorders.
12. Fertility Treatments Are Not Always The Answer
Many women only come by their PCOS diagnosis when they have trouble getting pregnant. But it is possible to get pregnant naturally with PCOS. Don’t assume you will never conceive with PCOS, or that fertility treatments are a must. In fact, researchers have found that as women with PCOS get older, their chance of getting pregnant may be higher.
We hope you found these PCOS facts informative. Let us know if you think we missed on something important!