When you are diagnosed with certain medical conditions, they have the potential to drastically change your life. It's natural to want to learn as much as possible about them. Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a good example of this. Women with PCOS have an imbalance in their hormones and metabolism which can affect their overall health. This condition is commonly found in women of reproductive age and can result in symptoms such as an irregular menstrual cycle, acne, hair loss, and weight gain. In this article, we aim to debunk five common myths about PCOS.
Myth #1, which is the belief that you did something to cause Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS), is not true. While the exact cause of PCOS is unknown, it is widely believed that several factors, including genetics, contribute to its development. Androgens, or male hormones, are involved in the development of male traits and are produced in higher amounts by women with PCOS. This excess of androgens can prevent ovulation and make it difficult to have regular menstrual cycles. Women with PCOS also produce excess estrogen, which can lead to a build-up of the lining of the uterus and increase the risk of uterine cancer. Insulin resistance may also play a role in the increased production of androgens. Women who are overweight or obese, have an unhealthy diet and exercise habits, or have a family history of type-2 diabetes are more likely to have PCOS. Additionally, women whose mothers and sisters have PCOS are also more likely to be affected by this condition.
Myth #2 suggests that weight loss can cure PCOS, but this is untrue. However, weight loss can help regulate hormone levels in overweight and obese women. PCOS has no cure, and treatment is mainly focused on symptom management. Different treatment options are available to prevent potential problems. To improve the way your body uses insulin and better regulate your hormone levels, you can make lifestyle changes such as healthy eating and regular exercise. Birth control pills can be an option to regulate your menstrual cycle and reduce androgen levels, especially if you are not planning to get pregnant. Fertility medications can stimulate ovulation, while ovarian drilling can increase the chances of successful ovulation, although it comes with the risk of creating scar tissue.
Myth #3 PCOS is a rare condition. In fact, it is one of the most common hormonal endocrine disorders among women of reproductive age, with an estimated 5 to 10 percent of U.S. women of childbearing age affected, which amounts to about 5 million women. However, it is concerning that less than half of all women with PCOS are correctly diagnosed, according to the PCOS Foundation, which means that many women may not even be aware that they have the condition. The foundation also suggests that PCOS is the cause of fertility problems in around 70 percent of women who have difficulty with ovulation.
Myth #4 about PCOS, which claims that you can't get pregnant if you have this condition, is not true for everyone. Women with PCOS who have difficulty with ovulation can use various fertility treatments, such as medications that can stimulate ovulation, and assisted reproductive technologies like in vitro fertilization. However, even if you are not trying to get pregnant, it is important to use contraception because some women with PCOS still ovulate intermittently. Dr. Sloane cautions that having PCOS does not mean you are in the clear and will not get pregnant.
Myth #5 only affects women who are overweight. While it is true that many women with PCOS are overweight or obese, PCOS can affect women of all body types. The reason weight is often associated with PCOS is that the condition can lead to insulin resistance, which can cause weight gain. However, a healthy diet and exercise are recommended as part of most treatment plans, regardless of body size. By debunking this myth, women with PCOS can better understand their condition and take steps to manage it effectively.