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What's the Deal With: Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS)

What's the Deal With: Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS)

I first read about Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) in You On A Diet and have been learning more about the condition as I meet more women living with it. There are many factors and medical conditions that can affect our appearance, weigh and fertility; Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) is one of them. Although it is a relatively common condition, an estimated 1 in 10 women of childbearing years have it, PCOS is relatively unknown.

PCOS is complicated and affects a woman’s menstrual cycle, fertility, hormones, insulin production, circulatory system, and appearance. Although the medical community has been aware of the condition for 75 years, the cause of the condition is still unknown. It Is treatable, but not curable, by medications, changes in diet and exercise.

Curious about what the symptoms are? Then

The symptoms are:

  • Irregular or absent menses
  • Numerous cysts on the ovaries in many, but not all, cases
  • High blood pressure
  • Acne
  • Elevated insulin levels, Insulin Resistance, or Diabetes
  • Infertility
  • Excess hair on the face and body
  • Thinning of the scalp hair (alopecia)
  • Weight Problems or obesity that is centered around your mid section

The most simple way to explain the syndrome is that in women with PCOS, the ovary doesn't make all of the hormones it needs for any of the eggs to fully mature. The hormonal cycle becomes out of whack (that is not the technical term, but you get my drift) and many different elements from fertility to blood sugar levels are affected.

To read more about this condition, visit 4Women.gov or Polycystic Ovarian Support Syndrome Association . Both websites are full of facts and information. If you think you have PCOS contact your doctor and make an appointment to discuss your symptoms and your concerns.

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letterkpancake letterkpancake 7 years
Thanks to all those who have been posting comments. I was just diagnosed with PCOS yesterday, along with diabetes. I have only certain symptoms - weight around the mid-section, irregular periods etc. My OBGYN put me on a low dose birth control pill to stablize my hormones, and i have an appointment at the diabetes center at the local hospital to put on medication. Thus, it will be easier to lose weight and eventually both the PCOS and diabetes can be treated and "cured."
Greekmami04 Greekmami04 8 years
I was diagnosed with PCOS when I was 15. It has been three years since and I have gained over 100 pounds. I have lost alot of my hair from my head. My hair use to be pretty thick, now its very very thin. I try getting extensions every now and then, or I use a headband to pull the hair back. The acne has been horrible, i have acne all over my shoulders, arms, and back. I get my period about twice a year. I was put on birth control a month after i was diagnosed, but i thought it was making me gain weight. I stopped it but gained even more weight. My period was normal when I was on the pill. I am going for an ultrasound in September. Oh! and one more thing...the hair all over my body is...disgusting I shave my whole body. Head to toe. Is there anyone out there who got cursed with alllll of what PCOS has to offer?
pixelhaze pixelhaze 9 years
Oh I completely forgot, my gyn also had me start using a cream called Vaniqa for the excess hair. It was very expensive - like $90 for a tube but I think insurance did cover some of it (smc you should ask your doctor about it). It doesn't get rid of the hair, but you use it every day after hair removal (like after waxing) and it keeps it from coming back. Not forever - but it is a considerable amount of time, and was a huge help to me, since this was happening when I was in high school and extremely self conscious. I ended up getting laser hair removal a few years ago, and it was DEFINITELY worth it. It takes a few sessions to fully remove the hair, and the number wont be the same for everyone. So it's important to go to a place that doesn't charge per session and instead charges for "getting the job done," basically. That will make it even more expensive, but it's worth it because you never know how many sessions you're going to need. My aunt was perfect in two, but it took me five! On the face it's basically painless. Anywhere else the pain is pretty bad (depending on the person. My aunt said she felt nothing) so take that into account. Still I can honestly say it was one of the best decisions I've made.
pixelhaze pixelhaze 9 years
Oh I completely forgot, my gyn also had me start using a cream called Vaniqa for the excess hair. It was very expensive - like $90 for a tube but I think insurance did cover some of it (smc you should ask your doctor about it). It doesn't get rid of the hair, but you use it every day after hair removal (like after waxing) and it keeps it from coming back. Not forever - but it is a considerable amount of time, and was a huge help to me, since this was happening when I was in high school and extremely self conscious. I ended up getting laser hair removal a few years ago, and it was DEFINITELY worth it. It takes a few sessions to fully remove the hair, and the number wont be the same for everyone. So it's important to go to a place that doesn't charge per session and instead charges for "getting the job done," basically. That will make it even more expensive, but it's worth it because you never know how many sessions you're going to need. My aunt was perfect in two, but it took me five! On the face it's basically painless. Anywhere else the pain is pretty bad (depending on the person. My aunt said she felt nothing) so take that into account. Still I can honestly say it was one of the best decisions I've made.
smcinthecity smcinthecity 9 years
Thanks for posting this. I have had PCOS for a few years now. I don't have the weight gain, but I did have a doctor tell me there is medicine for that, and not to hesitate to ask about it. I do have high blood pressure, and hair growth, which is aggravating in itself. I can't take the pill because of the BP, and so I have menstrual problems and periodic acne. I have looked into hair removal, but insurance won't cover it. They consider it cosmetic and it is expensive. I find it really interesting that this has been around so long, and can cause some many problems, that are extremely sensitive for a woman and yet there is little that can be done to heal it.
megw06 megw06 9 years
My best friend has PCOS and she has treated it with acupuncture for several years, and now has regular periods and many of her other symptoms were reduced (acne, etc.) Just putting it out there!
crispet1 crispet1 9 years
Thanks for this post! Im eager to learn more about PCOS.
misskboo misskboo 9 years
A BIG thanks for this posting Fit! I have PCOS too and it makes me go out of my mind with frustration. I'm the same as sigmaration, cysts on ovaries, low blood pressure (not high as common), normal lab results, no acne or hair, irregular periods and a 10 pound weight gain that despite strict dieting and 2 hour daily workouts will not go away. It's nice to know I'm not alone.
A-Journey-To-Wellth A-Journey-To-Wellth 9 years
thanks for posting this! my cousin was diagnosed with PCOS about 3 months ago and this helps me have a better understanding of her condition. Initially she was just treating the thinning hair instead of finding the root of the problem. I believe she's on some sort of hormonal shot therapy and is improving. I'll pass those two websites you gave on to her.
pixelhaze pixelhaze 9 years
I first heard about PCOS in a magazine when I was 15. Coincidentally I had an appointment with my gyn the next week and was diasgnosed. Byt the end of the month it seemed like everyone in my school had it. That kind of made me doubt my diagnosis, actually, since it just seemed like it was the popular illness to have at the time. . . . My doc just put me on the pill and told me to eat less carbs and I havent really thought about it since.
Daisy6264 Daisy6264 9 years
Thank goodness I don't have it.
sigmaration sigmaration 9 years
It is important to note that not all people have all the symptoms. I have PCOS and I do not have high blood pressure (in fact, its very low) and I do not have insulin resistance or diabetes (my blood sugar is totally normal). I doubted my diagnosis for a long time because of these factors, even though there were obviously cysts on my ovaries. My gyn convinced me that a symptom list is not a checklist -- you don't have to have all the symptoms to have the problem. I guess I'm lucky.
mrsjack mrsjack 9 years
I too have PCOS and was diagnosed 12 years ago. I've been working the last few years to get the symptoms (which constantly change) under control through diet and a 90 pound weight loss. It's beyond frustrating but it's not the end of the world. In fact by being open about PCOS, I've helped my friends get diagnoses and we now support each other in our PCOS battle. I really appreciate this post and hope that more women will start asking/re-asking about PCOS if they even think they have it. Doctors are slow to diagnose PCOS but with medication you can have a total life improvement.
DesignRchic DesignRchic 9 years
BTW, thanks for posting this FIT! It's important to be well informed especially since there's such a high percentage of women who have this disease.
DesignRchic DesignRchic 9 years
I have PCOS, and I found out during the Fall of last year. It was really surprising that so many women have it, because I don't hear it talked about at all. My sister just discovered that she has PCOS too. It was around the same time I did. My doctor says it's not hereditary. My mom, out of curiosity checked herself, and she doesn't have it.
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