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6 common misconceptions about Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS)

This might be probably the first time you’ve seen the abbreviation PCOS, and you just might be wondering what it means. Well, Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) is a hormonal disorder that causes an enlargement in the ovaries, with small cysts on the outer edges. It is common among women in their reproductive ages, and affects about 1 in 10 women worldwide, but is more prevalent in African and Black American women.

The cause of polycystic ovarian syndrome isn’t well understood but may involve a combination of genetic and environmental factors. Symptoms include menstrual irregularity, excess hair growth, acne, and obesity. This particular medical condition as others has its myths – these tales are not necessarily true but are widely regarded by some people as fact.

Some of these misconceptions include:

The only treatment for Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome is birth control pills 

birth control pills for PCOS

Women that have been diagnosed with this condition most times are afraid of not being able to conceive. Although it is the number one cause of infertility, this is not to say that it is a straight-up sentence to infertility. PCOS affects ovulation and leads to irregular menstruation, which makes it harder for women to get pregnant. But does not completely rule it out.

You can’t get pregnant with PCOS 

Hormonal birth control is a common way doctors treat the menstrual irregularities that come with the condition. But a person’s treatment will largely depend on her situation. If you want to get pregnant, you certainly won’t go on a birth control pill. Also, it is not the only way to treat PCOS, and it is not advised for all women. Women should learn to address their hormonal health more holistically with lifestyle measures, like reducing stress and eating an anti-inflammatory diet.

PCOS is a sign of Obesity

Not all obese or overweight women have PCOS, obesity can be caused by an unhealthy lifestyle and many other health conditions. Obesity, like PCOS, can also be hereditary. However, it won’t be a bad idea to get tested for PCOS if you feel overweight. 

Every woman with excess hair has PCOS 

While having excess hair is one of the common symptoms of the condition, it is not a certain indicator that a woman has PCOS. One of the reasons women may have excess hair is Cushing syndrome – which occurs when a woman is exposed to high levels of the hormone, cortisol (your body’s main stress hormone). Cushing syndrome can be triggered by your adrenal glands making too much cortisol, or from taking medications such as prednisone over a long period.

Women with irregular menstrual circle have PCOS 

Not all women with irregular menstrual circle have PCOS. There are a variety of other medical conditions that could contribute to irregular menstruation. An irregular menstrual cycle is a symptom of PCOS, but should not be a tag for PCOS. You should take necessary precautions by consulting your doctor or getting a test to confirm if you have it. Do not base your facts on assumptions.

You don’t have to worry about it if you’re not looking to get pregnant 

PCOS does not just affect a woman’s fertility; it can also impact her long-term wellness. It has been linked to type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, poor cholesterol levels, sleep apnea, depression and anxiety, and endometrial cancer. So, even if you are not looking to get pregnant, it is definitely not a condition you should overlook.

PCOS can be self-diagnosed based on symptoms

PCOS has similar symptoms with other health conditions. It is also easy to mistake it for diabetes or other hormonal imbalance issues. Hence, you cannot be sure if you have it unless you get tested. 

It also is not a cause for panic. When it is discovered on time and treated in combination with healthy lifestyle choices, you have little to worry about.

However, it is not well known, hence, it is easy for people who lack adequate knowledge to spread false information about it. If you notice any symptoms of PCOS, it’s best you speak with a licensed doctor first to get a professional medical opinion on what next steps to take.