We’ve all heard the story. You go to the doctor as a female, tell them your unusual symptoms and one of two things happens: They tell you it’s normal, or they put you on hormonal birth control. I know this story, because it’s something almost everyone in the Cysterhood has experienced.
So, as a female, sometimes it’s important to take charge of your own health. If that’s you, congratulations! You’re on your first step to healing! Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is unfortunately very common. So, if you’re experiencing a lot of strange physical symptoms. There’s no better place to start.
I’ve dedicated this post to listing out the early signs of PCOS. Discovering your PCOS early will help you take charge of your health, build good habits, and live comfortably and joyfully despite your PCOS. Here are early signs of PCOS:
What are the Early Signs of PCOS
One of the first signs of PCOS is irregular menstrual periods. Often, periods for Cysters like us are painful and infrequent. This is because of hormonal imbalances that can disrupt our menstrual cycles and prevent us from ovulating.
Excess Body Hair
This might be a symptom you didn’t think much of at first, but PCOS causes excess body hair on the arms, face, and chest. The imbalance of testosterone and estrogen means androgen levels are too high in our bodies, which cause extra hair to sprout in unwanted places.
With PCOS there is hair growth in all the wrong places, AND there is hair loss where we actually do want hair. That extra testosterone gives us hair problems similar to that of men, so that means balding and thinning hair up top, and growth everywhere else.
If you’ve had a cyst on your ovary, that was probably one of your first indications that you might have PCOS. These cysts are extremely painful, and they occur sometimes when our bodies fail to ovulate.
Struggling with infertility is one of the most common and most well-known symptoms of PCOS. If you’ve been trying to conceive for years, PCOS could definitely be a cause. Unfortunately, that disruption in your hormonal balance, whether it’s insulin resistance or high testosterone, makes it difficult to get pregnant. Understanding your PCOS type is an important first step in reversing PCOS and improving your chances of pregnancy.
Women with PCOS often have insulin resistance. This means we don’t process sugar appropriately and it often manifests as weight gain in the mid section and sometimes fatty liver. The glucose doesn’t deliver energy to our muscles, so we gain weight and feel fatigued. And, trying to lose weight sometimes feels impossible. Not to worry. We’ve created a community, The Cysterhood, which is the largest community of PCOS women learning how to lose weight and manage their symptoms.
High Blood Pressure and Cholesterol
High blood pressure and high cholesterol are due to that pesky insulin resistance. If you find that time after time you’re told at your annual physicals that your blood pressure and cholesterol are too high, it may be a sign of PCOS. This is something to address, because prolonged high blood pressure and cholesterol may lead to health conditions like type 2 diabetes and heart disease. That means potential risk for heart attack and stroke.
Oily skin and acne is another symptom of PCOS. If you thought your acne was just common puberty symptoms, but the acne has persisted well into your adult life, especially cystic acne, this is a sign that you may struggle with inflammation and hormonal imbalance.
Dips and rises in your blood pressure due to insulin resistance wreak havoc on your endocrine system. This means that not only does insulin resistance put you at risk of type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease, but it also makes your emotions swing as well.
Like we mentioned, glucose (sugar) doesn’t turn to energy like it’s supposed to if you’re a woman with PCOS struggling with insulin resistance. Because of this, you may feel fatigued. You’ll feel especially fatigued after meals that are sugary or not within your carb tolerance. That’s right, your low energy has nothing to do with your lack of caffeine, your metabolism is simply not doing its job.
Sleep issues are common among Cysters. The hormone issues associated with PCOS disrupt melatonin and cortisol secretion, which keeps you wired at night and fatigued in the day. Insomnia, sleep apnea, and other sleep disorders often come with PCOS.
Inflammation occurs when our body’s immune system responds to a food we’ve eaten. Instead of trying to properly digest it, your body attacks it. This causes lots of tummy troubles and issues in the bathroom. If you have regular issues with digestion after you eat certain foods + other symptoms on this list, you may have PCOS!
Darkened Skin Patches
High insulin levels in the body cause dark skin patches on the back of the neck, under the arms, and in the groin area. This symptom are not uncommon with obesity and other signs of diabetes. Check these areas for dark patches if you think you may have PCOS.
Here’s another effect of high blood sugar or hormonal imbalances. Regular high blood sugar levels can cause migraines. Plus, the hormonal element of PCOS doesn’t help the headache situation either. So, if headaches are part of your daily routine, PCOS might be your answer.
Inflammation, as well as extra sugar in saliva, can cause gingivitis and gum disease. Having lots of cavities or trips to the dentist with PCOS is not at all uncommon. Definitely keep seeing a dentist regularly, and try to manage your inflammation and sugar levels to improve your oral health.
Insulin resistance can also produce skin tags. This is not a super common symptom of PCOS, but it does come up! Skin tags are small, flexible flaps of skin that raise off the skin. They’re not dangerous, but they may be yet another sign of your PCOS.
Depression and Anxiety
Women with PCOS are 3 times more likely to deal with depression and anxiety than other women. This is not only because of the way our hormones affect our mood, but it’s also because of all the comorbidities that coincide with PCOS. I mean, look at this collection of symptoms!
Knowing about the early signs of PCOS can help you get a diagnosis faster and move quickly toward management!
Most of the symptoms of PCOS are caused by inflammation, insulin resistance, or hormonal imbalances. These three things cause a flood of issues through our bodies that leave us feeling, well, awful! But, Cysters, there’s hope. Though PCOS cannot be cured, the symptoms can be managed with diet, exercise, supplements, and a positive mindset. Join our Cysterhood and browse our blog to find out more!