You know that Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) is a hormonal disorder affecting women of reproductive age.
You know that high levels of male hormones (‘androgens’) can disrupt the menstrual cycle, cause irregular periods, contribute to weight gain, and lead to unusual facial hair growth.
But you may not know that PCOS can manifest in a variety of ways, affect people differently, and is linked to a lot of misconceptions.
Have no fear, Cyster! I’m here to set the record straight, debunk the myths, and shine a light on the facts.
Here are 10 interesting facts about PCOS that you may not know about.
Please note this blog post is not a substitute for official medical advice and is for informational purposes only. If you are concerned about your PCOS symptoms, suspect you have an underlying health condition, or wish to start a new diet/lifestyle/supplement plan, please consult your doctor first. Neither the author(s) nor the publishers of this content take responsibility for any potential health consequences or side effects experienced by any person following this educational content.
10 Interesting Facts about PCOS
1. PCOS is more common than you think
Did you know that PCOS is the most common endocrine condition affecting women of childbearing age? PCOS affects approximately 6 – 15% of premenopausal women. Most women with PCOS only seek treatment upon anovulation (a lack of ovulation), but you can have PCOS and regular periods. Some women go undiagnosed for a long time because they don’t realize that they have PCOS symptoms. These may include hair loss, acne, fatigue, and sweet cravings caused by insulin resistance/low blood sugar.
2. You can lose weight with PCOS
You’d be forgiven for thinking that weight loss with PCOS is an impossible endeavor, thanks to widespread misinformation. Many women with PCOS are overweight, but it’s not because they haven’t tried to lose weight or follow an exercise regime. Traditional weight loss methods aren’t necessarily helpful for PCOS Cysters. The key is to address the hormonal imbalance and insulin resistance behind the condition. Once these underlying issues have been addressed, sustainable weight loss is achievable.
Check out our PCOS-friendly weight loss resources here.
3. PCOS can make you feel fatigued
Feeling sluggish? PCOS is linked to chronic, low-grade inflammation, which is thought to contribute to fatigue. Thankfully, you can combat this through a combination of diet, exercise, and supplementation. Check out our handy blog posts for more information on how to boost your energy levels.
4. PCOS affects your mental health, as well as your physical health
PCOS is associated with an increased risk of anxiety, depression, or stress. This can be caused by various factors related to PCOS, including:
- Hormone imbalances that affect mood.
- PCOS-associated weight gain, acne, and hirsutism (i.e. excess hair growth) may cause self-consciousness and insecurity.
- Dealing with uncomfortable symptoms and health complications may cause stress.
- Infertility may lead to a low mood or depression.
Check out our mood-boosting PCOS self-care tips here.
5. Untreated PCOS can lead to Type 2 Diabetes
Androgen levels appear to affect where fat is stored in the body, and higher levels of the hormone can lead to women carrying more fat around the stomach. Excess fat around the abdomen can be dangerous as it surrounds internal organs and also increases the risk of developing health risks, including heart disease, type 2 diabetes, gestational diabetes, and liver problems. Thankfully, such issues can be prevented by diet and lifestyle changes.
6. Acne may be an early sign of PCOS
High levels of androgens cause increased sebum production, leading to acne and oily skin. For PCOS Cysters, acne is an outward manifestation of inflammation in the body. To treat and reverse acne caused by PCOS, we need to understand the root issue that sparks a flare-up. Find out more on our blog about PCOS skincare tips.
7. Despite the name, not all women with PCOS have ovarian cysts
Cysts are a symptom of PCOS, not a cause. PCOS is an endocrine and metabolic condition that affects the body well beyond the ovaries. Many researchers, doctors, and scientists are pushing to rename the condition, arguing that the current name is inaccurate and causes confusion. Listen to our podcast with Dr Lara Briden, author of the Period Repair Manual, for more insights on this!
8. You can get pregnant if you have PCOS
Although PCOS Cysters may struggle to conceive, having Polycystic Ovary Syndrome does not mean you can’t get pregnant. In fact, PCOS is one of the most treatable causes of infertility in women.
As with any woman, the best way to increase fertility and give your baby the best start in life is to adopt a healthy lifestyle. International, evidence-based guidelines for assessing and managing PCOS show that weight management, sleep, exercise, diet, limiting alcohol, and stopping smoking are the key factors in improving the likelihood of pregnancy. Check out our blog post on PCOS and ovulation here.
9. Myo and d-chiro inositol have been found to improve the fertility and metabolic aspects of PCOS
Inositols are holy grail supplements for PCOS Cysters. They can curb intense cravings, improve insulin levels, ease inflammation, enhance egg quality, reduce cholesterol, and aid healthy weight loss. Quite the all-rounder, right?
Inositols are one of the most researched supplements for PCOS. The combination of D-Chiro inositol (DCI) and Myo-inositol in a 40:1 ratio is known to improve egg quality and ovarian function. DCI can improve insulin resistance, which is common in women with PCOS. This combined approach targets both the metabolic and ovarian aspects of the condition. Ovasitol (15% OFF PRC code 292660) is a 100% pure inositol supplement made in the 40:1 ratio. It’s made from vitamin B8 and has been shown to improve egg quality and ovulation.
10. There are things other than medicine that can help treat PCOS
Diet, exercise, and lifestyle changes have a huge impact on preventing and managing PCOS. Gluten and dairy free lifestyle, good sleep, low-impact exercises, stress management, and limiting alcohol are all effective ways to keep undesirable symptoms at bay. For more information, check out our blog post on managing PCOS symptoms naturally.
For more tips on PCOS diet dos and don’ts, check out our podcast, A Cyster and Her Mister and our handy blog posts on PCOS and Chill.