If you’re a woman living with PCOS, you’re no stranger to the daily symptoms that make life really really hard. But, are you familiar with the long-term complications of polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)? The truth is that unmanaged PCOS can cause lifelong health problems.
I know, just another thing to stress about, right? But, hold tight. Today, I’ll break down the long-term complications of PCOS. However, I’ll also tell you how you can get your PCOS under control to relieve symptoms and reduce the risk of bigger complications. Here’s the scoop:
7 Long-Term Complications of PCOS
Type 2 Diabetes
Women with PCOS often have insulin resistance, which means the body doesn’t properly process glucose. This raises blood sugar levels, and, in turn, increases the risk of type 2 diabetes. Unregulated insulin levels and sugar intake lead to diabetes, so consider taking control of insulin resistance as soon as you are diagnosed. If you have intense sugar cravings and trouble losing weight, these are just a couple signs of insulin resistance.
When you have high blood pressure because of your insulin resistance, it makes it really hard for your body to pump blood and oxygen to your heart. Over time, this can lead to heart disease. Women with PCOS are twice as likely to experience a cardiovascular disaster like a heart attack or stroke, so here’s another reason to manage your blood pressure. Your heart health is at stake when you have PCOS!
Endometrial cancer can develop in women who are obese, diabetic, and insulin resistant. This triad increases the estrogen in the body to dangerous levels. So, those with PCOS who have all these risk factors are 6 times more likely to develop this cancer than a woman without PCOS. Taking care of PCOS as soon as your diagnosed is ideal to avoid these issues from snowballing.
Pregnancy and Fertility Issues
PCOS affects both the conception and gestation parts of pregnancy. The hormonal imbalances Cysters experience not only make for irregular periods, but they also prevent ovulation. The whole menstrual cycle can be disrupted, meaning the growing and releasing an egg part of ovulation never happens.
And, when Cysters do get pregnant, they’re more likely to have complications like preeclampsia, gestational diabetes, large birth weight, premature birth, and even miscarriage/still birth. You can find more information on fertility and pregnancy with this blog post and this episode of our Cyster and Her Mister podcast.
Sleep apnea is a disorder where breathing becomes interrupted during sleep. People can actually stop breathing in their sleep, so this disorder (like many others on this list) is super serious.
Though the connection isn’t completely clear, women with PCOS are 5-10 times more likely to develop sleep apnea. The theory is that high levels of androgens (male hormones) and low levels of estrogen (female hormones) cause the disorder for women with PCOS.
It’s also believed that Cyster’s struggles with insomnia and daytime sleepiness is an indication of sleep apnea. This is definitely a complication you want to look out for, especially if you have these sleep symptoms.
Gum Disease and Gingivitis
I know what you’re thinking: “Is there any aspect of my life that PCOS doesn’t effect?” I totally get the feeling. When the body is out of wack, it just dominos into every aspect of your health. And, yes, that includes your oral health. The increased glucose in your blood, hormonal imbalances, and inflammation can cause gum disease and gingivitis in women with PCOS.
We talk all about it in this episode of our Cyster and Her Mister podcast. Check it out if you want to develop a deeper understanding of the connection between PCOS and your oral health.
Depression and Anxiety
The symptoms and comorbidities of PCOS are hard to live with. Actually, Cysters, the symptoms and comorbidities of PCOS are merciless. The wear and tear on our bodies wears and tears our minds.
Eventually, many Cysters develop clinical depression and anxiety after years of battling the symptoms. Again, ladies, don’t lose hope. There’s a way to ease those symptoms and reduce your risk of developing long-term complications.
PCOS Complications Symptoms
Before we jump right into the things you can do to reduce the risk of long-term complications from PCOS, here are some warning signs to look out for. These are ways your body and mind might respond when experiencing PCOS complications:
- Irregular Periods
- Ovarian Cysts
- Excess Hair Growth
- Hair Loss
- Weight Gain
- Weight Loss
- Skin Tags
- Dark Skin Patches
- Mood Swings
- Digestive Problems
- Sleep Issues
How to Get PCOS Under Control
Though there’s no cure for polycystic ovarian syndrome, there are ways to alleviate the symptoms and risks. And, no, I do not mean hormonal birth control pills. There are lots of ways to manage PCOS naturally. We’ll break it down below, but you can read more about it here or listen to our episode on this topic here.
Food is SO powerful. Not only can the right diet help you lose weight with PCOS, but you can find relief from nearly all your PCOS symptoms with intentional eating. Acne, fatigue, headaches, mood swings, digestive issues, sleep problems, and more could dissipate my reducing inflammatory foods, like dairy and gluten.
Even with a great diet, it can be hard to get all the nutrients you need—especially when you’re dealing with deficiencies and imbalances caused by PCOS. So, taking the right vitamins and supplements can do a lot to support your healing and fill nutrient gaps.
Yes, relying on caffeine is only perpetuating the fatigue and addiction to caffeine. There’s a good chance you’ll actually see an improvement in your energy levels without caffeine and with a better night time routine. Caffeine only stimulates your adrenals more, which tires your body out. As you work on changing your diet and managing your stress levels, energy will go up—no venti chai latte required.
Not only is exercise great for maintaining a healthy weight, but staying fit will make you feel better too! However, women with PCOS need to do specific types of workouts to see benefits. Just like women with PCOS need to practice certain types of diets to see results.
You should be doing slow-weighted workouts that don’t stress your adrenal system. When you join the Cysterhood, we deliver new workouts to you monthly, so you can have the perfect exercise plan for your body!
Studies have shown time and time again that getting outside does wonders for your physical and mental health. Try having lunch outside, going on a morning walk, or doing your daily workout on the lawn! It’ll combat fatigue, mood issues, and also give you the boost you’re looking for.
I know this is easier said than done for some Cysters, but getting enough sleep is the very foundation of self-care. Try to get 8-9 hours of sleep every night to relieve stress, better your immune health, and keep the weight down. If you’re struggling to wind down and fall asleep at night, listen to this episode of Cyster and Her Mister. We can help!
Your spirit is important through this process. It’s easy to fall into depression and anxiety when you’re struggling with PCOS. When you get depressed, you lose motivation. Then your symptoms worsen. And, that leads to a deeper depression. It’s a vicious cycle. Take care of yourself. Do the things you love we are cheering you on!
Reduce the risk of long-term complications by managing your PCOS now.
If you’re struggling with PCOS, I’m here for you. I want to do everything I can to help you alleviate symptoms and live life to the absolute fullest. Don’t forget to read our posts, listen to our podcast, and join our Cysterhood.