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I'm Kelly - the founder of She Is Fierce! and your host on our blog featuring stories and wisdom from fierce women all over the world! 

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What Are the Symptoms of PCOS?

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Polycystic ovary syndrome (or PCOS) affects as many as 5 million U.S. women of reproductive age — about 6 to 12%. It’s one of the most common causes of female infertility, yet many haven’t heard of it. And even more, many women don’t even know they have PCOS, going undiagnosed, or misdiagnosed, for many years.

PCOS is a lifelong health condition. It’s a hormonal disorder caused by an imbalance of reproductive hormones that creates problems in the ovaries, high levels of male hormones, and cyst growth in the ovaries.

Most women are diagnosed in their 20s and 30s after going to their doctor because they are experiencing trouble getting pregnant or their menstrual cycles are irregular.

Common PCOS Symptoms

PCOS looks different in everyone. And many PCOS symptoms are attributed to other issues and overlap with other syndromes or conditions. This is why PCOS goes underdiagnosed in many women and can go undiagnosed for many years.

Below are common symptoms of PCOS.

1. Irregular menstrual cycle

Women who have PCOS will likely miss periods or have fewer every year. For some, periods may stop coming. This is because of the lack of ovulation PCOS causes.

There are several reasons your period may be late or irregular, which is why it is hard to pin PCOS as the underlying reason.

2. Polycystic ovaries

This is in the name, but people with PCOS may experience enlarged ovaries that contain follicles surrounding the egg. This can cause your ovaries to work improperly.

3. Difficulty getting pregnant

Cysts and other factors that come with PCOS may mean trouble for fertility. Many people with PCOS experience difficulties becoming pregnant. The hormonal imbalance affects ovulation — the growth and release of eggs from your ovaries. No ovulation means no egg to fertilize, meaning you can’t get pregnant.

But this does not mean you can’t get pregnant. PCOS is treatable. Talk with your primary care doctor about your cycle and ways to boost ovulation.

4. Excessive hair growth

This may be surprising, but people experience higher testosterone levels in PCOS. Excess androgen, a group of sex hormones that regulates the development and maintenance of male characteristics, can result in physical signs in women, including excess facial or body hair.

5. Weight gain

Another common sign of this syndrome is the PCOS belly shape many gets. Weight gain is triggered by male hormones, typically in the abdomen. So, with the excess male hormones, many women with PCOS experience weight gain and have more of an apple-shaped body.

6. Oily skin or acne

Excess hormones also mean you may experience acne and oily skin.

See your doctor if you have concerns over any of these symptoms and especially if there are concerns about your menstrual cycle.

What Causes PCOS?

It’s not the news you want to hear, but the exact cause of PCOS is unknown. Factors that can play a role include excess insulin or insulin resistance, low-grade inflammation, genetics, and excess androgen.

Early diagnoses and treatment help reduce the risks of other complications such as type 2 diabetes and heart disease. Preventative care, such as regular checkups, helps diagnose patients early on and cater to problems more quickly.

Metabolic Syndrome in Women

PCOS can increase women’s chances of developing other health issues later in life.

Dr. Elliott, a primary care doctor at Flagler Health+ specializing in women’s health, says, “PCOS is the most common endocrine disorder affecting women of reproductive age and can increase the risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes by four times the risk of the general population. I encourage all women diagnosed with PCOS to work closely with their health care providers to learn more about lifestyle modifications, tests, and treatment options that can reduce the long-term complications from PCOS.”

Insulin resistance and weight gain are common for women with PCOS. Thus, metabolic syndrome in women is standard, as is the development of heart disease and type 2 diabetes. This is because your body may be experiencing inflammation that stimulates polycystic ovaries to produce androgens, or your body produces excess insulin, which might increase androgen production and cause ovulation issues.

There is no cure for PCOS, but you can manage the symptoms and further health issues that come with it with medicines and at-home steps such as healthy eating habits and hair removal.

Always consult your health care provider and doctor with questions and concerns. Choose the right one you feel comfortable expressing all concerns to so that health issues like PCOS don’t go untreated.



This content has been shared with us by our Partner, Flagler Health+

If you have questions about the flu, check out Flagler Health for more information.

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