Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome: Symptoms and 5 Things You Can Do
What It Is
Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, also known as Stein-Leventhal Syndrome, is a hormone imbalance which causes the ovaries to produce cysts that inhibit ovulation (the maturation and release of eggs). All pre-menopausal women, regardless of age or ethnic background, are at risk. PCOS usually begins at puberty, but can start as late as the mid-twenties.
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There is a wide variety of symptoms resulting from PCOS. They include:
- Weight gain
- Pain during intercourse
- Insulin resistance
- Pain or pressure in the lower abdomen
- Hyperandrogenism (growth of dark hair on face and chest)
- Amenorrhea (lack of menstruation)
- Anovulation (lack of ovulation)
No two women are affected in the same way, so awareness and regular examinations are important. If you think you may have PCOS, talk to your doctor right away! Pelvic exams, blood work, and ultrasounds can detect hormone imbalance and cysts.
Did You Know...?
10% of all women are diagnosed with PCOS, however most women who have it are never diagnosed at all.
What You Can Do
The more you know, the better you can make important decisions.
1. Learn everything you can about how your body is supposed to work. If you're like me, health class didn't teach you what you need to know and your parents were too embarrassed to discuss the important facts. I was astonished by how much I didn't know. Research online or go to the library and find a book about how the female body is supposed to work.
2. Take notes. Keep a journal of everything, from details of your doctor's visits to your feelings. It is also helpful to keep a simple chart to track how heavy your blood flow is from day to day. Watching my chart, I learned that physical activity and stress dramatically increased my symptoms.
3. Make a list of questions and concerns to take with you to the doctor's office. Part of a doctor's job is to communicate with you. Don't let them brush you off or skim over the details because they are too busy. That they are over-booked is not your concern. Your health is your concern. If you don't make it a priority, no one else will.
4. Get a second opinion. Find a doctor that takes your health seriously and who is knowledgeable about PCOS.
5. Know your options. There are numerous treatments available, depending on how PCOS has affected you. Don't get pushed into surgery because it may not be necessary.
It is important to treat cysts. They can rupture, causing severe pain, nausea, and vomiting. If left untreated, PCOS can lead to:
- Cardiovascular disease
The best advice I got was from a gynecologist who specializes in PCOS. She said:
Don't let anyone ever tell you that you can't have children!
She explained that the way PCOS had affected me made treatment simple; After a couple of years of taking birth control pills to balance my hormones and get my body adjusted to a regular cycle, I should be able to safely get pregnant and give birth.
True to her word, 2 years later, she declared me cyst-free and able to have children! Since that happy day, I have blessed with two beautiful and healthy children.
You can learn more and find support at the Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome Association WebsSite.
© 2015 Rosa Marchisella