If you haven’t heard of PCOS, there’s no need for an SOS because we’ve got the 101 for you right here.

PCOS stands for Polycystic Ovary Syndrome. It is one of the most common health issues a lot of women face but it frequently goes undiagnosed until only much later in life. This happens because many women are not aware of these issues and thus, do not seek help for it, needlessly living with the symptoms for the rest of their lives.

PCOS develops when your body produces excess insulin, which then increases the production of androgens (male hormones). Being overweight or obese can also lead to the excess production of insulin. This is the most common hormonal disorder among women of reproductive age. If left untreated, PCOS can lead to several problems.

Being treated for PCOS can improve the quality of your life. It is important for us to take charge of our lives in every way possible and one of the best ways to do so is to take care of our healths. The saying “health is wealth” rings true in so many ways!

Symptoms of PCOS can vary from woman to woman. It is crucial for you to pay attention to your body because no one knows your body better than yourself! Our bodies have ways of telling us when something isn’t right. So, listen to your body and if you’re concerned about a health issue, discuss it with your doctor ASAP.

Here are some of the common symptoms of PCOS:

 

PCOS Symptom #1: Irregular periods or no periods at all

 

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Women with PCOS have higher-than-normal levels of androgens (testosterone is the most common). This can affect your ovaries and that can cause some major interference in your ovulation. Some women with PCOS experience irregular periods more often when they’ve gained weight or when they are going through a very stressful time. While not getting periods may be a joy in a pragmatic sense, it is NOT normal. So if you’re not getting period or going through an extremely irregular cycle, go check your uterus out, period. (Pun might be super intended.)

 

PCOS Symptom #2: Fertility issues

 

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PCOS is one of the most common causes of female infertility. Conception can be difficult due to a variety of reasons but it is often due to PCOS. Many women only find out they have PCOS when they have difficulty trying to get pregnant. If you’re already suffering from irregular periods, that can make getting pregnant a challenge because of your unpredictable ovulation cycle – it is difficult detect when you’re most fertile. Some women also experience difficulty with producing eggs because of the systemic inflammation and hormonal problems they endure with PCOS.

 

PCOS Symptom #3: Excessive hair growth

 

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An overabundance of male hormones can result in hirsutism, which is in essence, excessive amounts of hair growth. This particularly affects areas such as the face, chest, stomach, back, buttocks, thighs or even, toes (oh, the things that women have to endure!).

 

PCOS Symptom #4: Hair loss

 

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Whilst some may experience excessive hair growth, others can conversely experience hair loss. Thinning of hair is commonly seen at the frontal area, just behind the hairline. No one wants a bad hair day or in this case, a no-hair day.

 

PCOS Symptom #5: Acne

 

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For those suffering from acne (especially adult acne) you should get your hormone levels checked. Acne is often caused by hormonal changes. The main hormone responsible for acne is related to…you guess it: androgens. Another tell-tale sign of PCOS is the development of skin tags and darkened patches of skin.

 

PCOS Symptom #6: Mood changes

 

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Any woman who goes through the infamous PMS will understand what mood changes are and how bad it can be. You could kill someone if they hit the right nerve, so to speak! With women who have PCOS, changes in your mood can get worse and if left untreated, there is a danger of going into depression or developing high levels of anxiety.

 

PCOS Symptom #7: Headaches

 

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A lot of us overlook headaches as just something that will go away. However, if you find that you’re getting headaches regularly, that isn’t normal and you need to get it checked out.

 

PCOS Symptom #8: Poor sleeping patterns

 

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Women with PCOS often experience problems with their sleep. Some have very poor quality of sleep and others can experience bouts of insomnia. Having no sleep makes us very irritable and it can also cause high blood pressure.

If you often find yourself tongue-tied when being questioned by the doctor, a diary can help. To help your doctor in helping you more effectively, try to keep your own records on the various issues you are going through. For example, if you’re having headaches often, start a diary to log your symptoms. In each “headache attack”, write down the time and date and also try to describe your headaches in detail:

  • Is the headache a sharp pain or a dull ache?
  • Is it in the front or back of the head?
  • How is the headache relieved with any medication?
  • How long does the headache last?  

Once you have a record of your symptoms over a few weeks, bring this diary to your doctor’s appointment so you can discuss things in a more productive manner with him/her.  

Being diagnosed with any health issue isn’t pleasant but it can be managed with the right support and help. Being informed about your condition is the first step. Self-awareness is important because knowledge empowers you to make better decisions about your health. If you suspect that you may be suffering from PCOS, please make an appointment to see your doctor ASAP. Getting diagnosed is vital to help you live a full and satisfying life. Don’t let PCOS take a hold of you. Grab it by the balls and take charge. Let nothing hold you back!

 

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By Ann Lee.

 

Sources:

  1. http://www.pcosaa.org/
  2. https://www.womenshealth.gov/a-z-topics/polycystic-ovary-syndrome

 

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