As part of PCOS awareness month, I am going to be writing a couple of posts on PCOS and how it can affect individuals. 

PCOS (Polycystic Ovary Syndrome) is thought to affect approximately 5-10% of women of reproductive age – so every 1 in 20 to 1 in 10 women. Of these, as many as 30% do not actually have PCO (Polycystic Ovaries) as a symptom (I would be an example of this). Of course this is not a definitive number, as many women go undiagnosed for years. For example, I wasn’t diagnosed until I was 24, and this was after 10 months of investigation. Some women can also just have PCO without any other symptom of PCOS. 

There are many symptoms of PCOS, some are visible to other people, some are not. 

  • absent or irregular periods
  • no ovulation/infrequent ovulation
  • high levels of testosterone
  • being overweight or obese
  • excess hair
  • acne
  • depression/mood swings
  • cysts on the ovary/ies
  • infertility
PCO/PCOS is thought to be one of the leading causes of infertility in women. 

What are cysts on the ovaries? 

We all know that cysts are fluid filled sacs. But on the ovaries, cysts form when follicles (where the egg develops) stop growing too early, and instead of the follicles bursting to release the egg, they form cysts.

I think I may have PCOS, what should I do? 

Go to see your GP, and explain your symptoms. If they rule out other problems and agree with you, they will probably send you for tests such as blood tests and an ultrasound scan. If you are then diagnosed with PCOS, you may be referred to a specialist.

Can PCOS be treated? 

Yes it can, both through self help (eating a healthy balanced diet, exercise, managing stress levels, and various hair removal methods for excess hair) and medical help (such as the contraceptive pill, metformin, and fertility medicines such as clomifene (also known as clomid). In other cases, surgery may be required). The thing to remember is that although it can be treated, it cannot be cured. 

Although PCOS has symptoms to diagnose it, PCOS can also cause other things, such as
  • type II diabetes
  • high blood pressure
  • depression/anxiety
  • weight gain
  • miscarriage

The good thing is, that infertility caused by PCOS can be treated in many cases, and couples can come away with a perfectly healthy baby. Unfortunately, some are not so lucky. This will be covered in another blog post.

Which symptoms of PCOS do you display? How & when did you discover you had PCOS?

For further information, see these sources: BUPAWikipediaNHS

One thought on “PCOS

  1. A good little round-up Stacey 🙂 I have PCOS and they do NOTHING for me. I was started on Metformin and tried it for about 6 months but it made me sick all the time so they took me off it and left me to my own devices.

    I haven't been tested to know if it's affected my ovulation, but I do have the following symptoms:

    # being overweight or obese
    # excess hair
    # acne
    # depression/mood swings
    # cysts on the ovary/ies
    # infertility

    Wow, I sound like a catch. 😛 They found mine when I was working at a job with private health insurance. Part of it was that you got a free health check at Nuffield so off I trotted. The GP of course asked when my last period was and at the time, I was only getting it once or twice a year (I've since lost a considerable amount of weight and it's okay now). She then referred me to a gyno who immediately looked at me and said you clearly have PCOS and did a scan on the spot (oh how I love private healthcare, no waiting for anything!) and he saw the many many cysts.

    My GP continued the metformin prescription that the gyno gave me but never followed up anything else. I no longer have private insurance. I know I should go to the GP and talk about it and my infertility but I'm instead hiding away about it, because if it just doesn't happen I can just say it's one of those things, we never even went to the gp or anything. But if I go through the tests and the clomid and it still doesn't happen, there's just no hope left. (I have a raft of other health issues that cause infertility too). Sigh.

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