Being diagnosed with Poly Cystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) may seem scary. However, it’s not an uncommon condition, and it’s nothing to be afraid of. One in ten women aged 12-45 have PCOS, and it can happen to anyone. If there is a history of it amongst the women in your family you may be more prone to getting it. The best thing you can do is educate yourself about what to look for and how to deal with it.
So – here’s a quick biology lesson. PCOS is a problem where there are lots of changes to your hormones (hormones are chemicals that help one part of your body talk to another part). As part of this, the eggs in your ovaries don’t mature. Because they don’t mature, they can’t leave the ovary when they should. You develop many little eggs in your ovaries that can’t escape. This is where the term poly (many) cystic ovaries comes from. This also causes changes to your hormonal balance. PCOS comes with a variety of symptoms and you may not experience all of them. However, here is a list of the most common to look out for:
- Irregular periods – your periods may start later than your friend’s periods do, or be too far apart, or may stop for a while.
- Mood swings and depression.
- Weight gain.
- Extra hair growing in unexpected places – e.g. your face, your chest or your stomach.
- Acne that may even suddenly appear or suddenly get worse.
- Little tags (called skin tags) or brownish spots on your skin
- Hot flushes.
- Trouble getting and staying pregnant in the future.
- Polycystic ovaries on ultrasound – when you see your doctor, they might want to take a test called an ultrasound. This means they can look at your ovaries and see if they have these ‘cysts’. When you have polycystic ovaries they can see lots of little cysts through the outside part of one or both of your ovaries. Although, sometimes you can have PCOS without being able to see these on an ultrasound. And funnily enough, sometimes you can have polycystic ovaries and not have PCOS yet.
If you think you may have PCOS, don’t be shy – talk to your doctor or health care professional right away. The doctor will ask you about your health and family medical history, and should take a blood sample and an ultrasound.
The good news is that PCOS, including the more embarrassing parts, can be straightened out with some changes to your lifestyle. Did you know stress, lack of sleep, not exercising enough and eating too many packaged foods can make PCOS worse?
Maintaining an ideal weight is really important. PCOS causes weight gain, but weight gain makes PCOS worse. Being overweight can upset your periods even more, cause acne, and excessive hair growth.
Another good reason to keep your weight in check is that PCOS carries a risk of obesity, diabetes and heart problems. If you are concerned about your weight, talk to an expert to work out a healthy eating plan – don’t go on drastic diets as these can do more harm than good. Start by gradually increasing your exercise levels and eating fewer carbohydrates, which are in foods like bread, pasta, pizza, cakes and biscuits.
Like a lot of health problems, PCOS can be inconvenient and sometimes embarrassing. But by seeking the right help and taking care of yourself, you do not have to let it rule your life.
NOTE: The birth control pill is often recommended, but this can make PCOS worse, by causing something called insulin resistance. Plus, it take about 5-8 years from when you get your first period to when your body and brain talk properly with regard to your hormonal system. The pill can interfere this with. I don’t recommend it!
To find out more about PCOS, and to learn how to Conquer Your PCOS, head to www.facebook.com/ConquerYourPCOS and grab your free 3 Chapters of the comprehensive book Conquer Your PCOS Naturally now.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Dr Rebecca Harwin is a Nutritionist, PCOS Expert, Chiropractor and Author. She has completed eight years of intensive University study, and holds three undergraduate degrees; a Bachelor of
Chiropractic Science, a Bachelor of Applied Science (Clinical Science), and a Bachelor of Applied Science (Human Biology).
As an experienced Clinician she has been helping women improve their health for many years. Having previously suffered with the condition herself, she understands how tough it can be to overcome.