Welcome back to our Real Talk Fridays mini-series. This week's blog post is dedicated to raising awareness surrounding a very common chronic illness that affects roughly 3.4% of women worldwide.
Polycystic Ovary Syndrome; more commonly referred to as PCOS!
PCOS can be ‘triggered’ or diagnosed at any time during a woman's life as symptoms can become more prominent at any stage of life but typically earlier than expected. The first signs of PCOS in younger women may not always be very noticeable if puberty is still happening as the physical and mental changes our bodies go through can already be very unexpected during those times.
So what is PCOS?
Polycystic Ovary Syndrome is a chronic condition that affects how a woman's ovaries work. Even though there are no clear causes of PCOS, it is thought to be linked to hormone problems. PCOS is a condition where small, harmless cysts develop on the ovaries that do not grow to ovulation thus affecting a woman's hormones, fertility, menstrual cycles and mood!
It can become a very confusing and painful reality for many people where getting a diagnosis can be difficult if the symptoms are not understood. That is why we wanted to highlight the most common symptoms and the effects they can have to help you identify anything that might be causing you some concerns.
What are the most common symptoms of PCOS?
Before we go any further we would like to express the importance of getting medical advice before jumping to any self-diagnosis upon reading today's blog post! We say this as many of these symptoms, alone, can be very common but harmless.
For instance, body acne or hormonal acne is not directly linked to PCOS but it can be an area for concern heightened by the spikes and dips in imbalanced hormones. That is why body or hormonal acne is not a direct symptom of PCOS but excessive acne could be something to keep your attention focused on; there is always a possibility!
Now, a symptom that could be linked to PCOS is excessive hair growth on the body (stomach, hands, facial areas etc.) as this can be a sign of hormonal imbalance that could be down to ovarian cysts causing hormonal troubles. Many women with PCOS have heightened testosterone levels that can cause excessive hair growth.
These two symptoms are the most common with PCOS (hirsutism & absent periods). Therefore if you are suffering from irregular or absent periods as well as excessive hair growth then we highly suggest you seek professional medical advice!
Another symptom of PCOS can be linked to fluctuating weight, which can be triggered by higher levels of male hormones. Female hormones are affected by ovarian cysts, therefore, creating a spike in testosterone in the body; which then causes rapid hair growth, menstrual irregularities and weight gain.
Unfortunately, the symptoms, as well as the side effects of PCOS, can be rather painful for many women. Stomach inflammation and bloating can become common occurrences due to the constant changes PCOS can cause the body.
That is why we encourage you to seek medical advice if anything mentioned resonates with how you have been feeling or what you may already be experiencing!