#explainer

What is PCOS?

health

·

5 min read

What is PCOS? Photo

by Sandy Sanchez | October 28, 2020

You’ve probably heard of PCOS — and if you haven’t, let’s talk about it, because PCOS is more common than folks think. PCOS, or polycystic ovary syndrome, is a hormone imbalance that occurs when ovaries make more androgens (aka male sex hormones) than normal. It can be a confusing condition, since it affects everyone’s bodies differently. Here’s a few more things you need to know about PCOS, and what to do if you have PCOS, or think you may have it. 

how do you know if you have PCOS?

Some signs that you may have PCOS are irregular periods, acne, thinning scalp hair, weight gain, excess hair growth on the face and body, or ovarian cysts. People with PCOS are insulin resistant, which means their bodies can’t use insulin effectively, so they are at risk for type 2 diabetes.

PCOS can cause ovulation to happen less often, so many sufferers may also struggle to get pregnant. (It’s one of the most common causes of infertility affecting 6% to 12% people in the US of reproductive age — that’s about 5 million people.) Additionally, PCOS can be genetic, which is why it’s important to know your family’s health history if you can!

But remember: everyone has different symptoms. Some people might notice many of these signs and some might only have one symptom, which makes it hard to diagnose. If you are experiencing these symptoms, consider making an appointment with an endocrinologist or hormone specialist, they can look for things like excess hormone insulin and determine whether or not you have PCOS.

what do I do if I have PCOS?

If you’ve been diagnosed with PCOS, it can be scary, but don’t panic! Your doctor might recommend medications that reduce androgens in order to minimize acne, excess body hair, and scalp hair loss. Birth control pills are also commonly prescribed to manage PCOS symptoms. 

Aside from medications, a lot of people have had success managing their symptoms through healthy eating and regular exercise. And if you’re trying to get pregnant, talk to your OB/GYN about your options.

what folks with PCOS have to say 

“I was always suspicious of my irregular periods ever since I was young, but going to the OB/GYN was a bit taboo in my family, so I never went until I was older. Even then, I didn’t learn about my PCOS until recently when I went to see an endocrinologist who suspected I had it. They told me I’m not the typical patient for PCOS because I wasn’t experiencing facial hair growth or weight gain, but my irregular periods and hair loss were big enough signs that suggested PCOS. It’s different for everyone!” - S, 24

“I was diagnosed when I was 16 and it’s such a confusing disease. It’s had a big impact on my body image, because it’s really hard to lose weight when you have PCOS. Sometimes it does suck. You take your birth control, try to eat right, try to exercise, and try to manage your expectations of what your body should be and how it should function. But you have to remember to be gentle with yourself and that it’s not your fault you have PCOS.” - C, 26

by Sandy Sanchez

discover more topics

more from health

#Explainer

Thinx - Periodical - What-s the Deal with Seed Cycling

What's the Deal with Seed Cycling?

#Explainer

Thinx - Periodical - Finding the Right Therapist for You

Finding the Right Therapist for You