(5 myths about PCOS)

Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) is one of the most common endocrine and metabolic disorders in women, affecting up 20% around the world with an estimated 70% remaining undiagnosed. Despite being so common and despite extensive research data available publicly,  there are still too many misconceptions about this chronic hormonal disbalance, which makes diagnosis and management of the disease very challenging and a patient’s life full of disappointments.

Let’s address some of the most common myths about PCOS.

MYTH 1: PCOS Can Be Cured by Weight Loss

Unfortunately, there is no simple cure for PCOS. However, overweight and obese women can help regulate their hormone levels by losing weight. Otherwise, treatment focuses only on managing symptoms. Various treatment options exist to prevent potential complications. Lifestyle changes, including adopting a healthy diet and engaging in regular exercise, can improve insulin utilization and better regulate hormone levels. Birth control pills are a viable treatment option for women not planning to conceive soon, as they regulate menstrual cycles and reduce androgen levels. However, they do carry an increased risk of blood clots, particularly in obese patients and women over 40, so it is important to consult with a doctor to determine if this option is suitable. Fertility medications can stimulate ovulation in those desiring pregnancy. In some cases, this can address the lack of ovulation, a primary fertility challenge for women with PCOS. Ovarian drilling, a surgical procedure, can increase the chances of successful ovulation but carries the risk of creating scar tissue.

MYTH 2: You Caused PCOS by Your Actions

While the exact cause of PCOS remains unknown, it is essential to note that you are not at fault. However, several factors, including genetics and epigenetics, are widely believed to play a role. Androgens, commonly known as male hormones, regulate the development of male traits. Women with PCOS have higher levels of androgens than normal, which can hinder ovulation, disrupt regular menstrual cycles, and cause acne and insulin resistance. Abundant research data also suggests that high insulin leads to increased androgen production in the body, thus creating a vicious insulin-androgens cycle. Insulin resistance, a common occurrence in PCOS, is more prevalent in overweight or obese women, those with unhealthy diet and exercise habits, or those with a family history of type-2 diabetes. Additionally, women whose mothers and sisters have PCOS are more likely to be affected by the condition.

MYTH 3: PCOS is a Rare Condition

Estimates suggest that 5 to 10% of women of childbearing age in the UK have PCOS. This translates to approximately 5 million women, making it one of the most common hormonal disorders among women in the reproductive age group. However, according to the PCOS Foundation, less than half of all women with PCOS receive a correct diagnosis, meaning that many women remain unaware of their condition. The PCOS Foundation estimates that PCOS is responsible for about 70% of fertility issues due to ovulation difficulties.

MYTH  4: PCOS Makes Pregnancy Impossible

This myth does not hold truth for everyone. By addressing the root causes of the disease, and managing it with appropriate diet and lifestyle choices women are in power to balance their hormonal levels. Regular checkups with healthcare professionals will give more visibility into your biochemical individuality and the various treatment options you can have. Assisted reproductive technologies, such as in vitro fertilization, are also available for women with PCOS who require additional fertility support.

MYTH 5: PCOS Only Affects Overweight Women

While it is true that there is a percentage of women with PCOS who are overweight or obese, this condition does not discriminate based on weight and can affect women of all body types. The connection between weight and PCOS lies in the body's inability to effectively use insulin, leading to weight gain. Therefore, adopting a healthy eating routine and engaging in regular exercise are recommended as part of most treatment plans for women with PCOS.

By dispelling these myths and providing accurate information, we hope to foster a better understanding of PCOS. This will enable women with PCOS to seek appropriate medical care, and support, and make informed decisions and lifestyle choices about their health and well-being.



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