Let's Talk About PCOS
September is PCOS awareness month – do you know the symptoms?
PCOS affects one out of every ten women in the UK. Although it is one of the most common female hormone conditions out there, not many women know they have it.
September is officially PCOS awareness month, and we want to raise awareness of this disorder. So, let’s look at the symptoms of PCOS together, and what you can do if you think you may have it.
What is PCOS and how is it caused?
PCOS stands for Polycystic ovary syndrome. It is a hormonal disorder that affects women of reproductive age. With PCOS, the ovaries become enlarged with fluid-filled follicles.
The precise cause of the condition is not known, but it’s thought to be associated with abnormal levels of hormones. For example, raised levels of luteinising hormone (LH) usually stimulate ovulation, but can negatively affect the ovaries if levels become too high over a prolonged amount of time.
PCOS often runs in families, which means you may have an increased chance of having it if your mum, aunt or sister suffer from it.
What are the symptoms of PCOS?
The problem with PCOS is that because the symptoms are so varied, some women can have it and not know about it.
Some of the most commonly found symptoms of PCOS include:
- Irregular periods, or no periods. Some women experience heavy, painful periods
- Fertility problems
- Weight gain, especially around the tummy
- Thinning hair and hair loss
- Excessive hair growth on the body, especially the face, back, chest and bum
What happens if I have PCOS?
Unfortunately, PCOS can’t be cured. However, several things can be done to manage the symptoms.
One of the most significant things you can do to improve PCOS is exercising regularly and eating a healthy diet. High-fibre foods, lean protein and fatty fish are all great for relieving PCOS symptoms.
Women with PCOS are four times as likely to develop type 2 diabetes, so a healthier lifestyle will help reduce the risk of diabetes too.
Some women find that taking oral contraceptives can help regulate their hormone levels and reduce symptoms like acne and hair growth.
Can PCOS affect fertility?
As one of the PCOS symptoms is infertility, many women find out they have it when they’re trying to conceive.
If you are trying for a baby, there is medication available to help with ovulation.
As symptoms vary massively, not all women with PCOS struggle with becoming pregnant.
Think you may have PCOS?
If you think you may have any of the symptoms of PCOS, please see your GP as soon as possible.
Your doctor will carry out a series of tests to see if you have PCOS. If you do have it, they can recommend a course of treatment that will help you manage your symptoms.
Remember that if you have PCOS, you’re not alone. Celebrities like Keke Palmer, Gemma Collins, Victoria Beckham and Frankie Bridge have all opened up about their struggles with the condition.
Verity is a charity that helps women with PCOS and runs support networks so they can get together and talk about any issues they are experiencing.