It’s September! And so, SheIsLotus is pleased to share this week’s post “Let’s Talk Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)”, as we observe PCOS Awareness Month. You may have come across a social media post, heard “cysters” sharing their PCOS stories, or seen others wearing teal in support of the “cysterhood”. But, what does all of this mean? In this week’s article, we will spotlight the condition that affects so many women and girls across the globe, in hopes of building awareness and encouraging support, advocacy and empathy.
What is PCOS?
PCOS is the acronym used to refer to the condition Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, in which a woman experiences hormonal imbalances, that can lead to other reproductive and endocrine effects. It is a common condition affecting about 1 in 10 women globally.
There are three main features associated with PCOS. However, in order to be diagnosed, a woman must meet at least two (2) of the following three criteria, including:-
Irregular menstrual periods
Excess androgens or male hormones (with physical signs like facial or body hair), and
As a rule of thumb, your doctor may run other tests to confirm diagnosis, in addition to considering your symptoms. Such assessments include blood tests, pelvic examinations, ultrasounds and CT scans.
Common Symptoms of PCOS
PCOS is identified as a syndrome, specifically because of the numerous symptoms that have been reported by women who are affected. Some of these symptoms include: –
Amenorrhea (i.e. missed or no period)
Prolonged or heavy period
Hirsutism (i.e. excessive hair growth on the face, chest, back, etc.)
Mental health conditions (e.g. depression, anxiety, obsessive compulsive behaviour)
Excessive sweating, and
Fertility problems (e.g. infertility, miscarriages, etc.)
Types of PCOS
There are four (4) main PCOS-types, namely:
Insulin-Resistant PCOS – where PCOS is triggered by insulin resistance
Adrenal PCOS – where adrenals become overworked as a response to stress, thereby triggering PCOS
Inflammatory PCOS – where high levels of inflammation trigger PCOS
Pill-induced PCOS – where PCOS symptoms develop after taking any form of hormonal birth control
Treatment options for PCOS vary, because someone may experience a range of symptoms, or they may experience just one symptom. Regardless, treatments include medication (e.g. hormonal birth control, metformin, etc.), surgery (e.g. laparoscopic ovarian drilling), and lifestyle changes (e.g. diet, exercise, stress management, womb care, etc.).
Written by Ms. Kimmette Robertson