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5 myths about PCOS

If you’ve been diagnosed with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS), it’s quite likely that you’re feeling anxious and confused given the overload of information online.

Dealing with a PCOS diagnosis is already a highly emotional experience, without having to sieve through a deluge of information to separate myth from reality.

When it comes to researching medical conditions, it’s important to only rely on credible sources.

At Grace Private we specialise in managing a range of conditions, including PCOS. Our team of doctors, nurses and practitioners use the latest technology and evidence-based healthcare to support you throughout your PCOS journey, and are here to help you every step of the way.

What is Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)

PCOS is a hormonal condition that affects approximately one in ten women of reproductive age. The cause of this condition is still unknown, although it’s believed to be linked to genetics and triggered by a hormone imbalance including insulin and androgens.

Polycystic means ‘many cysts’. PCOS occurs when partially formed follicles that contain immature eggs grow on the outside of the ovary.

About PCOS

To separate myth from reality and ensure you are on the right path, we’ve listed the 5 most common myths associated with PCOS.

Women with PCOS can’t fall pregnant

FALSE. It’s a common misconception that you can’t fall pregnant with PCOS, although due to the hormonal imbalances associated with PCOS it can be more difficult to fall pregnant. PCOS can affect the growth and release of eggs, however, it’s still possible to conceive naturally.

To improve your chances of conceiving with PCOS we recommend adopting a healthy lifestyle.

  • eat a balanced diet
  • exercise
  • maintain a healthy weight
  • get enough sleep
  • stop smoking cigarettes
  • decrease your consumption of alcohol

Monitoring your ovulation and timing of intercourse may also help when trying to fall pregnant.

All women with PCOS have ovarian cysts

FALSE. Because of its name, many people believe you have to have cysts to be diagnosed with PCOS. It’s possible to have PCOS without having polycystic ovaries. Polycystic ovaries are only one symptom of PCOS. Other symptoms include:

  • irregular or missed periods
  • excess facial or body hair
  • hair loss on scalp
  • sleep apnoea
  • acne and dark patches on skin
  • fertility problems
  • enlarged ovaries – many small follicles with immature eggs
  • mood changes – including depression or anxiety
  • high blood pressure

To be diagnosed with PCOS you need to fit a criteria with 2 out of 3 clinical, blood work and ultrasound findings.

Woman Holding Her Baby

Every woman with PCOS is overweight – and it’s impossible to lose weight

FALSE. While obesity is one of the symptoms of PCOS, it affects every woman differently. It is possible to have PCOS and not be overweight.

It can be harder for some women with PCOS to lose weight, as many individuals have a lowered sensitivity to insulin. Speaking with a dietician can help to manage weight gain and maintain a healthy, balanced diet.

All women with PCOS experience excess hair growth

FALSE. Excess hair growth on the face, chest, back or thighs is a symptom of PCOS due to the imbalance of hormones, but it’s not always a sign of PCOS. Ethnicity can be a contributing factor that increases hair growth for women.

Women with PCOS have to start taking oral contraceptives

FALSE. After a quick internet search you’ll probably come across information recommending that every woman with PCOS should start taking an oral contraceptive.

The pill can be used to regulate a woman’s menstrual cycle, however it’s not necessarily right for every individual. Obviously this method of treatment isn’t viable if you’re trying to fall pregnant.

Treatment for PCOS

PCOS can be managed through a variety of methods including lifestyle modifications and medical treatment.

Eating a balanced diet and increasing exercise to maintain a healthy weight are two natural ways to manage PCOS. Medical treatment could include the oral contraceptive pill, hormone blocking medication to manage symptoms associated with excess testosterone (excess hair growth), insulin sensitising medications and other infertility medications.

Counselling for PCOS

We understand that a PCOS diagnosis is very confronting. It can have a huge impact on your everyday life and even trigger anxiety and depression. If you’re struggling with your mental health, we encourage you to reach out to a psychologist for help.

Our Grace psychologists Karen White and Kerryn Blunt have years of experience supporting women through a range of conditions, including PCOS. They can help you come to terms with your diagnosis and suggest ways to manage PCOS and limit the effect it has on your everyday life.

To make an appointment with any of our practitioners, ‘ask for Grace’ next time you visit your GP and let us give you the support you need to feel empowered throughout your PCOS journey.

Blog post written by

Dr Yasmin Pilgrim

Obstetrician & Gynaecologist

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