Hey, me too. Guess what, a lot of women are in the same boat we are, so let's start from the top. PCOS stands for Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome. Well, that sounds daunting, doesn't it? In a word, yes, it sounds scary and I'd be lying if I said hearing my doctor tell me just what was wrong with me didn't terrify me. Picture me for a solid day post-diagnosis as…
But hey, like I said, having PCOS is incredibly common in women making up 10% of women between the ages of 15 and 44, aka childbearing age. Because PCOS is so common, know that you're not alone, and it is a very well known and manageable condition. However, to be able to control the condition, you must understand the condition.
So, what exactly is PCOS? To put it simply, an ovary that is polycystic does not function as well as a normal ovary does due to cysts, or sacks, that form around the eggs within the ovary. This isn't typical and usually occurs because of a hormone imbalance within the body. Due to the hormone imbalance and the odd structure within the ovary, PCOS occurs and ovulation becomes difficult or, in extreme cases, impossible.
Okay, but what will my PCOS do to me? Great question! PCOS can affect your fertility because of the hard time your body is having ovulating but don't worry too much, I'll come back around to that soon. Along with PCOS can come ovarian cysts. I know, sounds redundant, right?
Well PCOS means you have cysts on the inside of your ovaries, having ovarian cysts means they can be on the outside. These are usually pretty harmless, but can occasionally cause pain, and in severe cases can cause ovarian torsion, meaning the cyst pushed against other parts of your body and twisted the ovary and fallopian tube. That sounds terrifying because this is an extreme case, and even though this is an extreme circumstance, it is SO important not to ignore any pain you may feel in the lower abdomen area because you don't want to cause any lasting damage to the area through poor blood circulation to the area.
Now that the obvious part of PCOS is out of the way, the cysts, let's talk about some of the less obvious aspects of the condition. Here's the thing though PCOS can manifest in different people differently, and that means some women may or may not experience some symptoms. Some of the symptoms that can affect women with PCOS may include highly irregular menstrual cycles, weight gain, thinning hair, excess hair growth, acne, depression, and fertility issues.
That's a lot of different symptoms, how do I know what affects me and how to deal with those? Well, this is the same question I asked my doctor, and this would be a great question to ask yours since everyone can experience PCOS differently.
For a blanket coverage to aid in a majority of the symptoms, you may want to ask your doctor about hormonal birth control. To be fair though, you may not even have to ask as they will likely suggest it right off the bat. Hormonal birth control, like the pill, can help women with PCOS get their hormones in line, which will decrease acne, regulate periods, aid in depression/mood swings related to PCOS or hormones, and will raise fertility rates due to more balanced hormones.
Another way to manage your symptoms of PCOS is through managing your body. Since PCOS affects women's weight and metabolism, controlling your weight through diet and exercise can have an impact on how the symptoms of PCOS affect your life. Even a slight decrease in body weight and BMI can increase a woman's fertility. Taking in fewer sugars and carbohydrates can affect your body weight as well as regulate acne in some women.
Though leading a healthier lifestyle definitely helps decrease the effects of PCOS, medicinal aid has a greater impact on the symptoms, and there are more targeted medicines for specific symptoms if one or more are more severe or prominent than others.
So, there it is, PCOS in a nutshell. Though it is a common condition, anyone who lives with PCOS can tell you it can be daunting and scary at first. There are plenty of women and great, knowledgeable doctors who know, understand and are living with PCOS, just like you are, just like I am, that are there to help and guide you through this.
Nothing is scarier than getting a diagnosis you weren't ready to hear, but there is nothing more comforting than hearing and knowing that there are millions of people who understand your experience and are more than willing to share their knowledge with you. So, you were just diagnosed with PCOS, but it's ok because you can kick PCOS in the ass in no time.