This is the million dollar question. A lot of us live in denial for a long time. There is a stereotypical idea of how women with PCOS are supposed to present themselves. Overweight, very hairy, and with absent periods! Whilst a lot of PCOS ladies do struggle with their weight, and also constantly battle with more body hair than necessary, a large number of PCOS ladies will be asymptomatic.
Before I got married, I had never, EVER, heard of the acronym PCOS. Never!! It was so alien to me. I remember the night before my traditional wedding, one of my old friends stopped by my house for a chit chat. Our discussion got quite emotional when she told me she had just been diagnosed with a hormonal disorder, and she basically wasnât ovulating. I had to suppress how horrified I was, in order to console her properly. But in my mind, I was like WHAAAAT??!! Thank God it wasn’t me. Little did I know that it kinda was.
It was some months down the line, that I got to know more about Lady PCOS…the grand dame called Polycystic Ovary Syndrome!!! And for the longest time after I knew what it was, I was in denial. Yes, I had put on some weight, but I wasnât THAT fat! And you could set your clock by my periods; that’s how regular they were. I did have some other physical traits, but even that was not enough to convince me I had the disorder. It wasn’t until I had a serious overstimulation case after a clomid (plus injectables) treatment that I was diagnosed with polycystic ovaries.
The numbers are staggering. 30% of women have PCOS symptoms. And it is not limited to women of reproductive age. 60% of women with PCOS suffer from weight management issues, leading to obesity even if your calorific intake is within normal range. Energy in the form of glucose is stored as fat, instead of being utilized by the body, ensuing in chronic fatigue and even undernourishment. It is, however, important to note that 40% of women with PCOS are of normal, or even under normal, weight range.
By now, you’re probably wondering whether or not you have it, right? If so, you could take the PCOS Test to have a better idea.
If you took the PCOS test, you probably have an idea what the typical symptoms could be. These often include:
- Irregular or absent menstrual periods
- Inexplicable weight gain and retention
- High cholesterol levels
- High blood pressure
- Lower abdominal and/or pelvic pain
- Ovarian cysts
- Irregular periods, that may come and go and may be very light to very heavy
- Body hair growing on the chest, belly, face, and around the nipples
- Decreased breast size
- Clitoris enlargement
- Male-pattern baldness (i.e. thinning hair on the scalp)
- Deepened voice
- Darkened skin around the armpits, groin, neck, and breasts
- Weight gain and trouble losing weight.
- Extra hair on the face and body. Often women get thicker and darker facial hair and more hair on the chest, belly, and back.
- Decreased sex drive
Not all these symptoms indicate PCOS. It is possible to have polycystic ovaries, but not PCOS. It is officially diagnosed via hormone profiling blood work and/or a trans-vaginal scan to assess the ovaries for multiple cysts.
If you do have PCOS, it isn’t the end of the world. With the right medication (such as Metformin and ovulation inducing drugs like Clomid), and lifestyle changes (diets low in sugar but high in proteins and fiber, frequent exercise, etc.), the condition can be well managed…but it can never be cured unfortunately.
It is critical to bear in mind that PCOS MUST be well managed…even if fertility is not youâre your priority. Unmanaged, it can progress to diabetes, high cholesterol levels, high blood pressure, and can also result in certain forms of cancer.
But if one does what they need to do, it will not affect or dictate your life!
Good luck….and baby dust to all!
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