5 Common Misconceptions About Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)
Some medical conditions have the potential to change your life, and once you've been diagnosed, you'll naturally want to learn everything you can about them.
PCOS (polycystic ovary syndrome) is a prime example. Women with PCOS have hormonal imbalances and metabolism issues, which can have a negative impact on their health. The condition is common in reproductive-age women and can cause symptoms such as an irregular menstrual cycle, acne, thinning hair, and weight gain.
In this article, we will debunk five PCOS myths.
Myth #1: You Did Something to Cause It
While the precise cause of PCOS remains unknown, one thing is certain: you are not to blame. Several factors, including genetics, are widely thought to play a role. Androgens, or male hormones, regulate the development of male characteristics. "While all women produce small amounts of androgens, those with PCOS produce more androgens than normal, which can prevent ovulation and make regular menstrual cycles difficult," explained Justin Sloane, MD, a physician at Penn Ob/Gyn Chester County.
The follicles develop and fill with fluid, but the eggs are not released. Ovulation does not take place, and the follicles may develop into cysts. If this occurs, your body may be unable to produce the hormone progesterone, which is required to keep your cycle regular.
"Women with PCOS produce an abundance of estrogen, or female hormones." While this does not contribute to the symptoms listed above, long-term "unopposed estrogen" can lead to uterine lining buildup, which is a major risk factor for uterine cancer, according to Dr. Sloane.
Some researchers believe that another hormone, insulin, may be involved in the body's increased androgen production. Insulin resistance is common in PCOS women. This is more common in women who are overweight or obese, have a poor diet and exercise regimen, or have a family history of type 2 diabetes.
Women who have PCOS in their mothers or sisters are more likely to develop the condition themselves.
Myth #2: If You Lose Weight, You Can Get Rid of PCOS
Unfortunately, there is no cure for PCOS, but losing weight can help balance hormone levels in overweight and obese women. Otherwise, treatment focuses on symptom management. A wide range of treatment options can aid in the prevention of any potential issues. Healthy eating and regular exercise improve the way your body uses insulin and, as a result, better regulates your hormone levels.
Birth control pills, which can regulate your menstrual cycle and lower androgen levels, can also be a good treatment option if you don't want to get pregnant anytime soon. Dr. Sloane continues, "birth control pills also appear to mitigate the increased risk of endometrial cancer by decreasing the amount of time the uterus is exposed to unopposed estrogen."
If you want to get pregnant, fertility medications can also help stimulate ovulation. In some cases, that may be enough to kick-start the process for women suffering from a lack of ovulation, which is the primary reason women with PCOS struggle with fertility.
Ovarian drilling, a surgical procedure, can also improve your chances of successful ovulation. While the procedure can temporarily lower your androgen levels, it does have the potential to cause scar tissue.
Myth #3: PCOS is a Rare Condition
PCOS affects between 5% and 10% of women of childbearing age in the United States. This equates to approximately 5 million women, making the condition one of the most common hormonal endocrine disorders among reproductive-age women.
However, according to the PCOS Foundation, less than half of all women with PCOS are correctly diagnosed, implying that millions of women may be unaware of their condition.
According to the PCOS Foundation, this condition is the cause of fertility issues in approximately 70% of women who have ovulation problems.
Myth #4: You Can't Get Pregnant if You Have PCOS
This is not the case for everyone. Talk to your doctor about fertility treatment to give your body a chance. A variety of medications can stimulate ovulation, which is the primary problem that women with PCOS face. Assisted reproductive technologies, such as in vitro fertilization, are also available as fertility treatments for women with PCOS.
"If you have PCOS and are not trying to conceive, don't think you're safe. While PCOS makes it more difficult to become pregnant, many women still ovulate on a regular basis. As a result, it's critical to continue using contraception," Dr. Sloane cautioned.
Myth #5: PCOS Only Affects Overweight Women
It is true that many PCOS women are overweight or obese. It's also true that obesity can exacerbate PCOS symptoms. PCOS, on the other hand, does not discriminate and can affect women of all shapes and sizes. The connection between weight and PCOS is due to the body's inability to use insulin properly, which can result in weight gain.
As a result, getting into the habit of eating healthy and exercising on a regular basis is recommended as part of the treatment plan for the majority of women.
By distinguishing between fact and myth, you can empower yourself to live a full, healthy life with PCOS.
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