While women with PCOS, in general, undergo anxiety and stress, there are a lot of misconceptions or myths about PCOS that can distress them more. Not to worry, this blog post is meant to clear the common myths about PCOS
What is PCOS?
Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) or Polycystic Ovarian Disease (PCOD) is an often-undiagnosed common hormonal condition caused by an imbalance of hormones in a woman’s body.
An average of 10 percent of women at their reproductive age experience imbalances with their menstrual cycle, dominating male hormone androgens, high levels of insulin, and small cysts in the ovaries, which can confirm a diagnosis of PCOS.
Top 12 Myths About PCOS
1. Myth – “PCOS causes infertility in women” or “women with PCOS cannot conceive”
This claim is totally incorrect. Women with PCOS may experience a delay in conceiving but they don’t completely fail to.
This delay is due to hormonal changes that affect ovulation or due to issues related to the quality of eggs. Contacting your fertility specialist can help the most here, who will assist you to get pregnant naturally or with some clinical assistance.
Just believe, with the right amount of diagnosis, exercise, diet, sleep, water, you can overcome PCOS easily.
2. Myth – “PCOS has got nothing to do with pregnancy”
While PCOS does have an impact on pregnancy, research has proved that women with PCOS are vulnerable to other risks including high levels of cholesterol, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and endometrial cancer.
Ignoring these may land you in significant long-term health effects, which should be addressed with your doctor, irrespective of whether you are trying for pregnancy or not.
3. Myth – “Only overweight women get PCOS”
This is the most common misconception. While fertility specialists agree that overweight or obese women sometimes suffer from PCOS, they have not asserted that women with ideal weight or underweight do not experience PCOS.
Even women at an ideal weight can have PCOS or PCOD, which could be purely due to insulin resistance or androgen hormones.
Another case that needs caution is lean PCOS, where even underweight women suffer from the same symptoms with lack of ovulation, irregular periods, problems in conceiving, etc.
4. “Myth – “Just weight loss alone can get rid of PCOS”
With proper exercise, diet, and weight loss, you may not be able to completely overcome PCOS, but bring down the blood sugar level in your body, thus improving insulin usage, and regulate your hormones.
Even a 10% weight loss in you can improve insulin sensitivity and ovulation!
5. Myth – “Women with PCOS, often have Polycystic Ovaries”
This is a misnomer. There have been cases where women with cysts don’t have PCOS, and those without cysts have had PCOS.
In both cases, the symptoms included irregular periods or no periods at all, extra hair growth on the face or body, thinning of hair on the head, coupled with weight gain or difficulty losing weight.
6. Myth – “PCOS patients have unwanted acne and hair growth”
While some women experience facial hair, others don’t. It is due to the higher androgen levels in the body, which affects everyone differently. Therefore, not all women with PCOS have unwanted hair growth.
7. Myth – “Women with PCOS can stay without using contraception”
While generally, it gets harder for women with PCOS to become pregnant, there have been instances where women with PCOS have ovulated naturally.
This might lead to unwanted pregnancies. Also, researchers have proven that women with or without PCOS have the same number of children. Therefore it is always wise to use contraception.
8. Myth – “Irregular menstrual cycle means PCOS”
The human body is unique. Ideally, a woman’s menstrual cycle varies from 21 to 35 days.
There could be a range of reasons for irregular periods including uterine fibroids, unhealthy diet, thyroid disorders, hormonal and stress levels.
But if your menstrual cycle is lesser than 21 days or if it goes beyond 35 and you are looking to conceive, you need to consult a fertility specialist for a treatment plan.
9. Myth – “PCOS is only about the menstrual cycle, and nothing else”
This claim is misleading. Being lethargic here can lead to complications including liver and heart. If you may ask how, in PCOS, the lipid levels go unpredictable, boosting blood pressure levels, leading to heart attack or even stroke in some.
Things could get dangerous for PCOS women patients who are obese, who should get diagnosed for non-alcoholic liver fatty acids. In other cases, if unattended, PCOS may even strike the adrenalin or thyroid glands.
A very serious impact of PCOS is it can increase the chances of endometrial cancer and breast cancer occurrence. All this disproves that PCOS is only about the menstrual cycle and nothing else.
10. Myth – “PCOS is self-diagnosable”
If you feel that PCOS symptoms are self-diagnosable completely, then you are mistaken. While it may seem possible to treat weight gain, mood swings, acne, all by yourself, it might get difficult to manage other complications that we just read above.
Therefore apart from following the above, you may have to keep your fertility specialist notified of the progress you experience, report to her every time you see changes, or come across a new symptom(s).
This will help you handle the syndrome well with better healthcare options.
11. Myth – “PCOS is a rare condition, and affects only a few”
This is an absolute misconception.
On average, 20 percent of women in India of the right childbearing age have PCOS.
PCOS syndrome has become quite common in women (of reproductive age) with hormonal endocrine disorders.
While only less than half of the women with PCOS are actually diagnosed, there are still lakhs of them who are potentially unaware of their syndrome.
12. Myth – “PCOS affects only women who are 30 plus age”
No, this isn’t true. PCOS doesn’t show age bias. The syndrome can easily affect even adolescent girls and women of all ages.
What are the risk factors associated with PCOS?
We wish to reiterate here. If untreated PCOS could increase the chances of developing diabetes, endometrial hyperplasia, which is a case when the uterus lining builds up, which might even lead to cancer.
In short, this is what PCOS could lead to; Infertility, Endometrial cancer, Diabetes, Abnormalities in Lipid, Cardiovascular Risks, Obstructive sleep apnea
PCOS treatment While women, in general, could start with lifestyle changes, like concentrating on weight loss and diet to regulate their menstrual cycle, improve their sugar, cholesterol, and blood pressure levels, those who are trying to conceive should get expert advice to improve ovulation.
PCOS may still be a misunderstood syndrome, but trust us, there are a wide variety of treatment options available for it. Only a specialist can determine the best options for you. We wish you good luck to overcome it.
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