We all know hormones can wreak havoc on our emotions (PMS ice cream and crying session, am I right?), but they can cause even more issues if they stop working the way they’re supposed to. Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, or PCOS, is a syndrome caused by hormone imbalances. PCOS affects between 5 – 10% of women between the ages of 15 – 44, but odds are you haven’t heard your friends chatting about it.
What is PCOS?
Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome is a hormonal condition that is characterized by an excess of Androgens, often known as male hormones, and lots of small cysts on the ovaries (hence the name).
We’re not sure what causes PCOS, but we do know that it seems to have a hereditary link. So, if your mom or aunt has PCOS, you’re more likely to experience it as well.
What are the symptoms?
The most common symptoms of PCOS are:
• Irregular Periods
• Excessive hair growth on face and chin
• Hair Loss
• Darkening of the skin around the neck, armpits, and genital area
• Weight Gain
The symptoms of PCOS can vary greatly from woman to woman. If you have a few of these symptoms, it’s best to speak with your doctor, as it could be PCOS. Some women experience difficulty getting diagnosed, so it’s important to be an advocate for yourself if you think you may have PCOS.
PCOS often affects fertility, but having it doesn’t mean you can never get pregnant. If you’re facing infertility, discuss with your doctor.
PCOS can also affect your insulin levels – if left untreated, PCOS can lead to diabetes and heart disease.
What can I do if I have it?
Many women with PCOS are prescribed hormonal Birth Control pills. This will help even out your hormone levels and regulate your periods. If you’re looking to become pregnant, treatment is typically focused on ensuring regular ovulation.
Diet and exercise can also make a big difference in how you feel – focus on eating whole foods and avoiding added sugar. If you are overweight, losing weight can help relieve the symptoms of PCOS.
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