Unusual Symptoms of PCOS

5 Unusual Symptoms of PCOS

Unusual Symptoms of PCOS
by Tallene Posted June 18, 2024

Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) is a common hormonal condition that impacts 1 in 10 women– it’s more common than we realize! What most people know about PCOS is that it can cause irregular and heavy periods, ovarian cysts, infertility, and weight gain. However, those aren’t the only symptoms of PCOS (and not every person experiences all the symptoms). If you think you might have PCOS, it’s super important to know if your chronic issues may be due to this condition. 

So, today, I’m going to tell you some unusual symptoms of PCOS. These are the symptoms you probably didn’t realize had any connection with PCOS. I should note, that you can’t diagnose PCOS with symptoms alone. You typically need 2 of 3 for your doctor to diagnose you: 1) irregular periods, 2) ovarian cysts and 3) hyperandrogenism. You may need some lab work to determine if you truly have the condition. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t research and start making a plan to reverse your symptoms today! 

As a PCOS registered dietitian and a fellow Cyster, I am a big advocate for women listening to their bodies and investigating their health. Here are 5 unusual symptoms of polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS):

Unusual Symptoms of PCOS

5 Unusual Symptoms of PCOS

Excess Hair Growth in Unwanted Places

Many women with PCOS experience dark, coarse hair growing on their upper lip, chin, chest, abdomen, and other unusual places. Of course, as women we all see this form time-to-time, but with PCOS it’s excessive! Like some of us are shaving our face every day, which can be unusual. (But no shame in it, either!) 

This happens to Cysters because of high levels of androgen hormones (male hormones) in our bodies. It’s one of the many common hormone imbalances a woman with PCOS faces! While causing excess hair growth in areas you DON’T want thick hair, it can also cause hair loss where you DO want thick hair. Male pattern baldness is very common with PCOS! Luckily, there are lots of ways to naturally lower testosterone with PCOS using things like a balanced diet, zinc supplementation, and Testosterone Relief Tea

Excess Hair Growth in Unwanted Places

Sleep Disturbances

Did you know that women with PCOS are 50% more likely to be diagnosed with a sleep disorder? It’s true! Restless leg syndrome, excessive daytime sleepiness, insomnia, and obstructive sleep apnea are all common in women with PCOS. 

Hormonal imbalances and insulin resistance are two of the root causes of PCOS, and also two big influences on our sleep disturbances. The imbalances of sex hormones impact the body’s natural sleep-wake cycle. Even your melatonin production gets thrown way off! Plus, body pain, anxiety, and depression can contribute too. But this quality of sleep is something we can manage and get control over, so don’t stress about this being a forever thing! Here are some tips on how to get better sleep with PCOS.

Unusual Symptoms of PCOS

Darkened Skin Patches and Skin Tags

Insulin resistance can trigger a condition known as “acanthosis nigricans.” It’s where the high blood sugar levels in your blood stimulate the growth of skin cells and melanin, which creates thick, dark skin patches and skin tags mostly in your body folds and creases. Since up to 80% of women with PCOS have insulin resistance and darkened skin patches, so skin tags are not at all uncommon! 

So, if you have velvety dark patches of skin and/or skin tags, those could be signs of PCOS. You can tackle this issue by increasing your insulin sensitivity through proper nutrition, exercise, stress management, and other PCOS skin care techniques

Gut Health Issues 

Inflammation from hormonal imbalances and insulin resistance is another common struggle for Cysters! Chronic low-grade inflammation can cause headaches, joint pain, weight gain, fatigue, food sensitivities, bloating, constipation, and diarrhea. Yeah, not the most fun list to read. But stay with me, I can help! 

If you struggle with gut issues, it could be related to PCOS. This issue can be reversed by replacing our inflammatory foods with PCOS-friendly alternatives and taking supplements like vitamin A and probiotics. Here’s more on the gut health and PCOS connection

Brain Fog

Our body’s glucose metabolism is essential for our cognitive health. However, we already know that many Cysters struggle to lose weight and maintain insulin sensitivity! On top of that, increased stress levels, mood problems, and fatigue from hormonal imbalances can further contribute to poor brain health . . . AKA brain fog. 

If you struggle with focus, mood swings, and low energy, and can’t pinpoint the cause….it might be connected to PCOS. Stress management through exercise, eating well, self-care, and other lifestyle changes is essential to boosting your cognitive health and could be your biggest tool to reversing your symptoms and getting control back of your health! 

managing pcos starts with recognizing its signs

PCOS could be to the cause for many of your chronic health problems! 

Knowing the symptoms of PCOS can help you determine if there’s a possibility you have this condition. Or, if you already know you have PCOS, knowing the resulting symptoms is fundamental to making a plan to reverse your PCOS and live symptom-free. 

I invite you to download The Cysterhood app! It’s a whole community of Cysters like you who are taking one step at a time toward their symptom-free life. Beyond a supportive community, there are PCOS-friendly recipes, workout plans, and helpful resources. It’s an important component of your healing process. You don’t have to feel alone in this process, and we’ll work along your PCOS, together!

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