Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome
This health topic has been on my mind for a while now. Then a friend reached out to me asking me to write about it. And just when I was considering what month to write about it, one of my favorite actresses, Adesua Etomi W, talked about her struggles with infertility and mentioned being diagnosed with PCOS. That was the final conviction I needed to make PCOS April’s #HealthTalkThursday topic.
PCOS is a condition that affects up to 26.7% of women in their reproductive ages (Ages14-44) and yet, it goes undiagnosed up to 70% of the time! That means 7 in 10 women that have PCOS don’t even know they have it! Most women are diagnosed in their 20s or 30s usually when they have problems getting pregnant.
So what exactly is PCOS?
PCOS stands for Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome or Polycystic Ovary Syndrome. It is a condition that affects a woman’s ovaries (where eggs are stored), reproductive organs, and hormones that regulate the menstrual cycle.
Usually, PCOS has 3 main features
- The presence of numerous cysts in the ovaries- This is where the name PCOS comes from. Cysts are fluid filled sacs that form in the ovaries, not every woman with PCOS has this and not every woman that has this has PCOS.
- High levels of male hormones , in particular, androgen
- Irregular or skipped period – Check out the last #healthtalkthursday post for more info about your period.
What causes PCOS?
Like many health conditions in the world, Doctors can’t say what exactly causes PCOS. Factors that play a role include: Increased levels of androgen (a male hormone), High levels of insulin leading to insulin resistance (insulin in the hormone that helps control glucose levels in the body), Genetics (You are more likely to have PCOS if your mom or sister has it)
What signs should I look out for?
Some common signs and symptoms include:
- Irregular period, missed periods, too heavy or too light periods
- Acne or oily sin
- Darkening of the skin
- Male pattern baldness
- Weight gain, especially around the belly
- Hair growth ( On the face, chest or body)
- Pelvic pain
- Skin tags
What are the complications from PCOS?
- Metabolic syndrome i.e high blood pressure, high blood sugar, abnormal cholesterol levels
- Endometrial cancer
- Sleep apnea
- Depression, anxiety, eating disorders
- Type 2 diabetes or prediabetes
- Premature birth
- Gestational diabetes, Gestational hypertension
What treatment options are available?
There is no cure for PCOS yet. However, there are a number of treatments that help manage the symptoms. Some of these include:
- Lifestyle changes i.e maintaining a healthy weight and diet changes
- Hormonal birth control medications
- Laser treatments for hair removal
- In some instances, surgery
Can I get pregnant with PCOS?
Women with PCOS can still get pregnant. PCOS could however make that process more difficult, or cause complications in pregnancy and childbirth. That’s why it is important to get diagnosed early. Women with PCOS can work with their doctors to determine how to increase ovulation, and minimize these complications.
Some fertility treatments e.g IVF are also options for women with PCOS that have difficulty conceiving naturally.
Where can I get more information on PCOS?
In conclusion, if you are having any of the symptoms mentioned above, you should get in touch with a medical doctor or health care provider for medical evaluation and advice.
Before I forget, the #HealthTalkThursday Challenge for this month is simple- Raise awareness on PCOS. Talk to someone about it. Share this post. Read up on it. Let’s improve the stats on diagnosis so that more women get diagnosed and seek treatment earlier! Are you in????
That’s it for this month’s #HealthTalkThursday. If there is a health topic you would like me to write about, pls send me a message and it just might get posted ?. I also love feedback so leave your feedback in the comment section.
Thanks for reading. Catch you on the next post ,and don’t forget to subscribe!
PS: This post should in no way substitute for professional medical advice. If you are having any concerns, please speak to a medical practitioner