Did you know that almost 10percent of women of reproductive age struggle with Polycystic ovarian syndrome? Women affected often have irregular menstrual periods, hair growth in unwanted areas such as the face, chest, or abdomen resulting from overproduction of a male hormone called androgen ( such as the face, chest, stomach e.t.c), acne, and metabolic syndromes such as high blood cholesterol, high blood pressure and insulin resistance (in which the body is unable to use its insulin effectively). In this article, we carefully debunk some common myths about PCOS.
1. MYTH: Thin women don’t have PCOS.
It is true that the majority of women with PCOS are overweight and being obese worsens the condition, normal-weight women also experience PCOS (comparatively rare though). Cases in which women with normal weight or even underweight develop PCOS are termed Lean PCOS. Women affected may or may not have symptoms such as irregular cycles and acne.
2. MYTH: PCOS symptoms are the same for all women.
This is incorrect as symptoms vary in women affected by PCOS. The common symptoms are menstrual problems (irregular periods or delayed periods), and weight gain. Not all women have hair in unwanted places (Hirsutism) or have acne.
3. MYTH: All Women with PCOS have Ovarian Cysts.
Although the name ‘Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome’ suggests multiple cysts on the ovaries, not all women with PCOS have cysts. It is possible to have cysts on your ovaries without having PCOS and vice versa. Also, the cysts present in women with PCOS appear different from ovarian cysts under ultrasound and do not rupture or cause pain.
4. MYTH: Women with PCOS cannot have babies.
PCOS is a common cause of infertility in women, this is because women affected usually ovulate less and are prone to miscarriages. But many women are still able to conceive by making necessary dietary and lifestyle changes and/or fertility treatments.
5. MYTH: You do not have to worry about PCOS if you are not planning to get pregnant.
PCOS does not only affect women’s fertility but also causes certain metabolic disorders. Some studies show that Up to 50% of women with PCOS develop impaired glucose tolerance or type 2 diabetes by the age of 40 years. Women affected are also at risk of high blood cholesterol and high blood pressure putting them at higher risk of cardiovascular diseases. PCOS is also associated with binge eating, anxiety, and depression.
6. MYTH: PCOS can be cured.
PCOS can’t be cured but can be adequately managed. The first line of treatment is dietary and lifestyle modification. A modest weight loss of just 5–10%, without medical intervention, has been shown to improve many of the symptoms associated with PCOS. There are also medical treatments for hirsutism, acne, and infertility. Metformin is commonly prescribed for women with PCOS as it helps in women having glucose intolerance or Type 2 Diabetes
Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome has a great impact on women’s health throughout their life span. Since diet and lifestyle management is the primary treatment, your dietitian can help you live an optimal life as well as prevent other medical conditions associated with PCOS. Click the ‘consult a dietitian’ button to begin management today!
- Moran LJ, Pasquali R, Teede HJ, Hoeger KM, Norman RJ. (2009) Treatment of obesity in polycystic ovary syndrome: a position statement of the Androgen Excess and Polycystic Ovary Syndrome Society. Fertility and Sterility92: 1966–82.