A PLEA FOR ROUTINE MEDICAL CARE: PCOS
I've been mulling over listing about this for awhile. Now's as good a time as any. Inspired by @christiesails
- •There's a condition that affects 1 in 10 women of reproductive age, that is only just been understood in recent years: PCOSPolycystic Ovarian Syndrome
- •It is caused by insulin resistance and manifests itself in devastating ways for some women.
- •FERTILITYOvarian damage from insulin resistance leads to high testosterone, infrequent (or even nonexistent) ovulation and poor egg quality. And if you are blessed enough to ovulate and conceive, PCOS patients have more miscarriages than normal women.
- •IRREGULAR MENSTRUATIONIf you don't ovulate normally, you don't menstruate normally. This shows up differently in everyone. I had long, long periods (like months long) and got severely anemic. Others don't have periods as often. Or at all.
- •OBESITYThe insulin resistance at the heart of PCOS causes severe weight gain for some women. I gained over 100 pounds before I was properly diagnosed, and it wouldn't budge no matter how hard I tried to lose. The weight usually appears around the midsection.
- •SKIN/HAIRHigh testosterone and imbalanced hormones lead to acne, male-pattern hair loss (bald spots) and male-pattern hair growth (mustache, beard, chest/stomach hair). This varies from person to person. I myself have thinning hair and some acne, but nothing else.
- •CARDIOVASCULAR HEALTHThe high insulin greatly increases your chances for stroke, heart attack, diabetes, high blood pressure, all the bad stuff.
- •DEPRESSION/ANXIETYThese are greater in women with PCOS, too. We're not sure if it's a symptom of the disease or a result. It's damn depressing to worry about facial hair, obesity, whether or not you can have kids, if you'll ever get healthy.
- •The good news is there are more and more treatments available now. Doctors are steadily researching the condition.
- •MEDICATIONSome women take birth control pills to regulate their cycles and symptoms. Some women (like me) attack the root cause and go on medication normally for diabetics. You can also take something to address the excess androgens. I take Metformin for insulin resistance, Spironolactone for hair growth/loss and Lexapro for depression and anxiety.
- •LIFESTYLE MODIFICATIONOther treatments include a reduced-carb diet and exercise.
- •If any of this sounds familiar for you or anyone you know, see a doctor.Start with a gynecologist to rule out other problems and consider seeing a reproductive endocrinologist for hormonal concerns. Don't blame yourself and dump anybody that tries to say that. You are worth the time and trouble it takes to get better!
- •Research it!http://youngwomenshealth.org/2014/02/25/polycystic-ovary-syndrome/ is a good overview. WebMD is another good one.