PCOS. Do you know what this stands for? Many people, including women, don’t until they’re sitting uncomfortably in their OB/GYN’s office and this acronym gets thrown out. I’ve been there. At age 25 I was sitting in a very sterile room when my doctor came in and rambled out: “PCOS.” I was like, “PCO-what?!”
Polycystic ovarian syndrome, or PCOS, is not uncommon and affects many women in their childbearing years. This is typically the time when PCOS is diagnosed, especially if a woman is trying to conceive and having no luck. PCOS often interferes with a woman’s menstrual cycle and her ability to ovulate, which is necessary for conception. PCOS is only one of many causes of female infertility. Wikipedia says that PCOS develops when excessive levels of androgens are produced. When these levels are too high, they can interfere with the release of eggs through ovulation, which in turn can cause infertility.
There are many risk factors for PCOS, such as being overweight, but you can still be diagnosed with PCOS even if you don’t meet these criteria. I, for example, am not overweight, but still have PCOS. Common symptoms of PCOS include missed periods, irregular cycles or severe PMS symptoms. One symptom that seems somewhat odd is excessive hair growth, which typically indicates a hormone imbalance. It’s important to understand that having one or more of these signs doesn’t necessarily mean you have polycystic ovarian syndrome. PCOS is typically genetic, so a family history of the disease means you have a higher chance of developing it.
In my case, we were simply trying to conceive without luck. My doctor decided to perform an ultrasound, which showed a number of ovarian cysts. For my ob/gyn this was the biggest indicator for my PCOS diagnosis.
So now you are wondering: “Is PCOS treatable?” Yes, it definitely is treatable, but there is no cure. The treatment is often managing its symptoms. For women with PCOS who wish to become pregnant, fertility treatments can be an option. Of course, managing the symptoms often means making some significant lifestyle changes to reduce weight. Avoiding highly processed foods and added sugars is also helpful.