It’s PCOS Awareness Month! But What Is PCOS?
By now, you know that this website is all about PCOS and learning how to better live with this condition.
But really, some of us may genuinely ask themselves: “What is PCOS?” So I’ll try to explain.
What is PCOS?
PCOS stands for Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome. It’s not a disease: it’s a syndrome. The difference between a syndrome and a disease lies in the fact that a syndrome is a collection of symptoms. It may not necessarily be a disease in itself, but it can precipitate one.
For example, women with PCOS have an increased risk of developing diabetes type II. A syndrome is often a warning or an indication that something in your body’s not working properly. In our case, PCOS underlies a hormone disorder. An imbalance of reproductive hormones like progesterone and estrogen is thought to be the cause of it. It’s often genetic too.
PCOS is a condition in which multiple cysts grow on your ovaries. These cysts are usually benign masses; they’re sacs full of fluid that can also erupt, causing pain.
Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome symptoms vary from women to women but here’s a non-exhaustive list of some signs and symptoms a PCOS “cyster” (friendly name :)) may experience.
- Irregular menstrual cycles
- Women facial hair on the face, chin. It’s called “hirsutism” and affects up to 70% of women with PCOS (yup, you’re not alone)
- Acne on the face, chest, and upper back
- Thinning hair or hair loss on the scalp
- Weight loss struggle
- Darkening of skin, particularly along neck creases, in the groin, and underneath breasts
PCOS can manifest itself at any given time after puberty, and it affects 5-10% of women. African American and Hispanic women are unfortunately more overweight in America. Therefore, they are at an increased risk of developing physical conditions, which makes them also prone to hormonal imbalances and PCOS.
Hope for PCOS
In the conventional medical world, there’s no such thing as a cure for PCOS. The aim is to alleviate its symptoms.
Frequently, people living with PCOS also try to get rid of PCOS symptoms rather than the condition itself. For example, if hirsutism is one of the symptoms, some PCOS “systers” will try to go and get facial hair removal treatment.
If the problem is unexplained weight gain, they’ll try to find a diet to lose weight.
All of these things make sense. In fact, these are things I did myself when I realized I had this syndrome.
But these won’t get rid of PCOS. It’ll just get rid of its symptoms, and most of the time, it won’t be a permanent solution because the underlying problem remains: hormonal imbalance.
So while looking for symptom relievers (you’ll even find tips here on this blog), it’s also wise to understand what’s actually happening inside of your body and what’s causing these annoying symptoms.
So PCOS awareness month isn’t only for people who didn’t know such condition exists: it’s also the perfect time for all PCOS cysters to come together, learn more about PCOS and its alternative ways to control its symptoms and share with others what’s helped them along the way.
And this blog is the perfect place to do so.
So I’d like to know, do you have unanswered questions about your PCOS diagnosis? Do you think you have PCOS symptoms, although you didn’t get a diagnosis?
I believe there’s much power in sharing.
Peace, Love, and Health,
RN, BSN, HC