What is Polycystic Ovary Syndrome? What does it have to do with pregnancy? Welcome to A Quick Guide to PCOS, where I’ll try my best to answer those questions and more!
What is Polycistic Ovary Syndrome anyway?
Polycistic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) is incredibly common – potentially effecting 1 in 5 women! (Although these numbers vary, and in my research was reported between 1 in 5 and/or 20 women. Either way? That’s a lot of women with PCOS.)
PCOS is associated with high levels of androgen hormones and/or insulin and causes irregular (or absent) period cycles, excess hair growth on the body and face, weight gain and potentially hair loss.
Unfortunately? There isn’t really any specific reason why some women develop PCOS. But the good news is that it’s relatively easy to manage! (Keep reading to find out more.)
Are you worried you may have PCOS?
Here are some of the common signs and symptoms of Polycistic Ovary Syndrome.
- Weight gain and/or trouble losing weight.
- Extra hair on the face and body. (Often this hair is thicker and darker than normal.)
- Thinning hair on the scalp.
- Irregular periods. (Including absent periods, heavier than “normal” bleeding and incredibly long cycles.)
- Trouble getting pregnant.
- Extreme fatigue
I have some (or most) of those symptoms now what?
Officially? You need to get a diagnosis. Which is often easier said than done.
Your health provider will ask you the general questions for any regular/annual check up. They will ask about your menstrual cycle, general health, etc. They will likely draw blood to check hormone and blood sugar levels. In many cases, they will request an ultrasound as well. With the ultrasound you should expect to find (assuming you do have PCOS) slightly enlarged ovaries which have multiple small cysts covering them.
Ok, so I have PCOS. What next?
The great thing about PCOS is that it’s easily managed.
- Health and Fitness – Since most women with PCOS tend to be overweight – and weight loss is relatively difficult – one of the first things your health care provider will recommend is losing weight. Focus on high fiber, natural proteins and avoiding processed sugars. (I know, easier said than done!)
- Birth Control Pills – This is one of the most common ways to treat PCOS. Birth Control helps to regulate the hormones that our body has trouble producing and regulates your periods.
- Anti-androgens – help to control the acne and unwanted hair growth.
How does PCOS effect my fertility? (Can I have a baby?)
Because of the irregular periods and hormone imbalance that many women with PCOS have it’s often difficult to conceive. Fortunately, there are ways to help regulate your hormones! Fertility medications are a common solution – including clomid. The diabetes medication metformin is also a commonly used medication to help conceive.
A 2014 study even concluded that eating a teaspoon of cinnamon every day can boost your fertility if you are trying to conceive PCOS!
Want more information about PCOS?
I’ve collected a few of my favorite links for you to read more!
While this is a basic overview of Polycistic Ovary Syndrome? In the near future, I will be focusing more on this sneaky syndrome which so many women (plus sized or not) are living with!
Are you living with PCOS? Do you have any tips for increasing your fertility with PCOS? Please share in the comments!