PCOS: The Syndrome That Affects More Than Your Fertility

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Although, January is not the PCOS awareness month ( September is), the last half of January on Twitter at least was filled with increased talk on PCOS and its effects on one’s fertility.

However, the talk moved from just infertility to one’s general lifestyle, one of those tweets with the hashtag, #PCOSCHAT was this: “We talk about #heartdisease #stroke #cancer & #diabetes … #PCOS can be precursor to all and is rarely discussed. Lets break the silence!!”

It simply wondered why, many people are still in the dark about PCOS, given the fact that the condition is linked to heart disease, cancer and other diseases that makes for a poor quality of life.

I was really concerned, as I had mostly thought about PCOS in terms of how it affects a woman’s fertility, but now, it was a life threatening condition that should be given more attention. Which is reason enough for more women to get tested and thus break the silence surrounding it.

But first of all, what is PCOS, for the sake of those, who do not know. According to the www.webmd.com, Polycystic Ovary Syndrome is a problem in which a woman’s hormones are out of balance. It can cause problems with your periods and make it difficult to get pregnant.

PCOS also may cause unwanted changes in the way you look. Most women with PCOS grow many small cysts on their ovaries. That is why it is called polycystic ovary syndrome. The cysts are not harmful but lead to hormone imbalances.

With that out of the way, I researched into the different ways that PCOS can affect a woman’s life outside of her fertility.

1. PCOS May Lead to Diabetes

One of the symptoms of PCOS is insulin resistance. This alters the way your body processes sugar, which exposes them to a greater risk of developing a type of diabetes, gestational diabetes (diabetes during pregnancy) and pre-diabetes.

According to my research, when insulin resistance occurs as it often does in between 50% and 70% of women diagnosed with PCOS, the pancreas needs to make more and more insulin to effectively control blood glucose levels and that is where the problem lies.

High insulin levels stimulate fat storage, blood lipid problems such as low amount of good cholesterol in the body and the over-production of male hormones, androgens. This can contribute to obesity and an increased risk of heart disease and stroke as well as the other symptoms previously listed.

As women with PCOS are likely to have insulin resistance, they have a greater risk of developing these conditions. It is recommended that all obese women with PCOS be tested for type 2 diabetes.

2. PCOS is Linked With Depression

Asides from your fertility and the lifestyle-altering condition of diabetes, PCOS can also bring on depression in the sufferer. The likely culprits are the various hormones involved, along with having to cope with the emotions of dealing with a difficult medical condition.

Depression can be an especially troubling symptom of PCOS, as it depletes your energy to seek help and make changes. Although, emotional consequences of PCOS can be devastating, there is something you can do. A healthy lifestyle, which includes a nutritious diet, plenty exercise, nutritional supplements and/or prescription medications, can help you bring your PCOS depression under control.

According to a study done on 300 women with PCOS, 32% showed elevated levels of anxiety as well as depression, which affected the quality of their lives. The study went on to add that when compared with PCOS women without depression or anxiety, the group showing signs of both anxiety and depression had significantly higher menstrual irregularities.

It concluded that, for a well rounded PCOS diagnosis, initial evaluations of all women with PCOS should also include assessment of mental health disorders. The clinician should further pay attention to background of their patients especially in view of the factors influencing psychological well-being

3. Undiagnosed and Untreated PCOS Can Affect your Heart

In this life, there are some things one have no control over, PCOS, infertility are some of those things, thus, there is not need for self- blaming or shaming at all, it is a condition that afflicts its sufferer, she has no reason to feel as though, she brought it on herself. No not at all.

If you see symptoms of the disorder, it is advisable to seek medical help. We have a test to determine if you have the condition on our website, take the test and confirm with a doctor, in fact, seek second opinions, after all, its your life and as has been seen from the effects, having PCOS is a far reaching condition. The earlier it is diagnosed and treatment started, the better, it is for all concerned.

However, an un-diagnosed and untreated PCOS open its sufferer to heart disease risk. Several studies and research have shown that heart diseases risk factors are more common in women with PCOS. Risk factors like women with PCOS tend to more often than not overweight, have increased levels of androgens, and are insulin resistance, elevated bad cholesterol, and high blood pressure ( so you see all these factors are interwoven with each other, stop one and you have managed the other.

However, if these risk factors do not get proper attention, then the woman’s heart is at risk.

4. Even With PCOS, You Can Have Kids

Fertility issue has always been at the fore front of PCOS talk, so let’s address it. Yes, women with PCOS do get pregnant and have kids.

Medical science has shown that, although, women suffering from PCOS might experience difficulty in getting pregnant, as most of them don’t ovulate, it is however, not impossible.

5. PCOS may affect your breast milk supply

Now, this is one aspect that is not often talked about, perhaps because, women, who experienced it might not be inclined to talk about it, and the simple fact that it does not affect a high percentage of PCOS ladies.

However, medical science has over time, indicated that due to the hormonal imbalance that led to PCOS, the development of milk in the breasts can be affected. PCOS women are urged to start pumping their breast, immediately after giving birth to help the milk supply come in on time, as baby’s rooting reflexes might not be enough to do the job or in a situation, where baby is unable to suckle for hours after birth.

In reality, though, there are many women who suffer from PCOS and they breastfed their babies without any challenge. However, it is not a bad idea to raise the subject matter with your doctor as your Expected Date of Delivery (EDD) gets closer.

These are some of the ways, in which the hormonal condition, PCOS affects its sufferer’s quality of life, but with proper management, it is possible to have a healthy lifestyle devoid of any of the debilitation symptoms of the condition.

And as the tweet, I quoted earlier said, the gospel of PCOS still needs to be preached.

PCOS or not, baby dust!

 

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Photo credits:

1. http://www.squarespace.com/

2. http://www.hngn.com/

3.  http://www.timeinc.net/

4. http://drbernardwillis.com/

5. http://www.pinterest.com

6. http://babycarejournals.com/

 

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5 COMMENTS

  1. Amen, God bless you, we need to create more awareness about this because so many women don’t know about it until they are faced with infertility, which makes them be at risk for diabetes hbp, high cholesterol etc.

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