Acne, weight problems, excess hair, irregular periods – what if it’s all connected?
New ovarian health research asks you to take a minute for yourself and reflect...
Every day, millions of women of every age and culture look at themselves in the mirror and see something that no one else does. We see that little bit of weight no diet or lifestyle changes seem to be able to fix.
The excess oil, unwanted hairs and pimples that just won’t go away.
We look straight past the beauty that’s there and see the girl who needs medication to have a normal period.
Or the woman who’s umpteenth pregnancy test has come back negative. And we ask: why me? Why can’t I be normal?
Funny thing is, that’s almost all of us. So what’s normal then? We just don’t talk about it.
And perhaps it’s time that changed.
Turns out, you’re not alone
Over the past few years, doctors and researchers have been looking into a poorly understood and underdiagnosed ovarian health condition, known as Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS).
And we’ve made a few startling discoveries along the way. PCOS impacts your ovaries and can cause infertility, and it’s usually only discovered when a woman struggles to conceive.
But new research says that PCOS can show up at any age and as some of the most common 'everyday' symptoms women experience include:
1. Irregular, missed (or absent) menstrual cycles
2. Weight loss or weight gain (the kind that you feel you can’t control)
3. Acne, pimples and oily skin
4. Excess hair growth
5. And, in later life, difficulty falling pregnant
The message is: You’re not alone. Research has shown that 1 in every 10 women might have PCOS.
What is PCOS?
New studies show that PCOS starts with your metabolism.
Researchers realised that the bodies of most women with PCOS have trouble processing insulin, the hormone it uses to extract and store the energy from carbohydrates.
And if your body struggles with insulin, it builds up in your blood and triggers your ovaries to overproduce androgen (male hormone).
The technical term for that is hyperandrogenism, and you can probably already guess its symptoms:
2. Excess hair growth
3. Weight problems
4. Irregular periods and infertility.
Suddenly it all makes sense. You’re not weird or different. It’s more common than you think.
PCOS can be managed
Of course, not every pimple or stray hair indicates a serious underlying cause.
But if you’ve been battling with one or more of these conditions, the good news is you can get yourself tested and know for sure. Your doctor or gynaecologist will be able to advise.
And it doesn’t matter what age you are. In your teens, you might just want some answers about your weight, acne, hair growth and those times you missed your period. Or, if you want to start a family, you might already have some trouble conceiving.
Even later in life, if you’ve had some of these symptoms and just want to make sure the insulin part doesn’t become something more serious (yes, PCOS has been linked to diabetes).
A number of treatments are avaiable, and if you suspect you need help speak to your doctor.
Share your stories and questions with us via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Anonymous contributions are welcome.
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