If you have been diagnosed with PCOS – there must be a number of questions on your mind. From what is PCOS, to the risk of developing complications and the chances of conceiving. Although it can be overwhelming to diagnose with PCOS, remember that there are plenty of treatment options available and many women have been able to successfully control their symptoms.
No matter where you are in your treatment journey, here are some of the facts to remember about PCOS:
1. PCOS does not affect only overweight women
It is a misconception that only women who are overweight or obese have PCOS – PCOS can affect anyone regardless of their weight status. Although many women with PCOS are overweight/obese, PCOS can also affect women who fall under the healthy weight (BMI<25) category. This type of PCOS is called lean PCOS and can go untreate for years until the symptoms become severe or have trouble conceiving. However, if you are overweight, losing even 5% to 10% of your body weight can help improve PCOS symptoms. The main reason why many women with PCOS struggle with weight gain is because of the underlying hormonal imbalance – especially in the levels of insulin. A healthy lifestyle can help manage the underlying hormonal imbalance and help you lose weight,
2. You can get pregnant with PCOS
A common question that many women with PCOS have is ‘can I still conceive?’. PCOS can affect your body in many different ways – and can also reduce your fertility making it difficult for you to get pregnant. However, PCOS does not make you infertile. You have an equal chance of conceiving as women with PCOS. Since PCOS can affect your menstrual cycle, it can also result in irregular ovulation. Irregular ovulation means eggs are not released regularly and if there is no egg released, pregnancy cannot occur.
However, there are plenty of treatment options available that can help increase your chances of conceiving with PCOS. It is recommend that you manage your PCOS symptoms first and then plan on starting a family. Age-related risk of infertility starts around the age of 35 – so it recommend to start family planning a little earlier so that you would have enough time to explore your treatment options and manage your symptoms
3. Losing weight is not enough
It is true that losing weight can help improve the symptoms of PCOS, however, only losing weight is not enough to manage your PCOS in the long-run. Weight loss is one of the components of the larger treatment plan for PCOS. Following a balanced, nutritious diet, coupled with regular physical activity, stress management and getting good quality are equally important to your treatment journey. Although losing weight is a great place to start, don’t stop at that. You need to continue following a healthy lifestyle that can help you manage your symptoms and prevent them from relapsing.
4. PCOS and PCOD is the same thing
If you are still looking for answers to what is PCOS – you must’ve come across articles online claiming PCOS and PCOD are different conditions, with different symptoms and treatment options. PCOD which is polycystic ovary disease is an outdate term that is not used by medical professionals anymore. PCOS which is polycystic ovary syndrome is the correct term as researchers understood that PCOS is a syndrome and not a disease. That is because PCOS can show up as a mix of symptoms, at varying degrees with no definitive root cause. On the other hand, a disease has a specifie cause and a set of symptoms that are well understood.
5. Not every woman will require medications
Being diagnosed with PCOS does not mean you have to take medications to improve your symptoms. Many women have been able to naturally improve their symptoms by making lifestyle modifications. However, some women may require medications in addition to making lifestyle changes to help control the symptoms by addressing the underlying hormonal imbalance. Usually, birth control pills and metformin are commonly prescribed medications that can help regularise periods and reduce insulin resistance. Remember that you cannot depend on medications for the rest of your life and are never a replacement for making lifestyle changes. A healthy lifestyle is a sustainable way to control PCOS symptoms in the long run.
6. Having irregular periods does not always mean PCOS
Irregular periods are one of the most commonly reported symptoms in PCOS. However, not every woman who has irregular periods will have PCOS. Irregular periods can be caused due to a number of reasons including, poor diet, sedentary lifestyle, stress and even certain medications. So if you have been having irregular periods, it is best to first speak to a doctor who can assess the root cause of your irregular periods. With PCOS, look for other symptoms apart from irregular periods which include trouble losing weight, excess facial/body hair, acne, and scalp hair loss. If you are unsure whether your symptoms indicate PCOS, get the appropriate tests done to understand the root cause.
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