Let’s face it – women with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) have a lot of uphill battles to climb. First of all, there are the nonexistent periods…that when they do come, do so with a vengeance! Then there’s the issue of acne (aren’t pimples supposed to go away after you hit 20??). Also, the extra hair growth – or loss — may make you crazy. To top it off, all the hormonal imbalances can lead to difficulty maintaining a healthy weight – even with vigilant diet and exercise. It’s enough to make you question your sanity!
Fortunately, we are steadily learning more about this disorder which affects 5-10% of all women in the United States. PCOS patients – whether newly diagnosed or already undergoing fertility or other treatment – can take solace in the fact that there are an increasing number of resources to help them navigate the challenges. There is a website called www.soulcysters.com which provides a wealth of information for PCOS patients. There are also message boards/forums where women with PCOS can share information and gain power over this treatable condition. Another website with a lot of resources is www.pcossupport.org, which is the website for the Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome Association. A new organization can be found at www.cysterworld.com. What’s great about these resources is the ability to connect with a number of other women who are going through the same PCO-related challenges. You are not alone!
Last week I posted about celebrities who have been public with their infertility challenges. There are also celebrities who have been vocal about their battle with PCOS: Jillian Michaels (of the Biggest Loser), Emma Thompson, and Victoria Beckman (a.k.a ‘Posh Spice). Not everyone with PCOS fits the classic description; PCOS patients can be thin or overweight and may or may not have the typical symptoms of acne or hirsutism.
If you think you may have PCOS (i.e. you have irregular or absent periods – and perhaps excess hair growth or acne), it’s important to find a doctor that can work with you to manage your symptoms and optimize your health. It isn’t all about just bringing on regular periods. Patients with PCOS are at greater risk for other health issues (i.e. diabetes), and it’s important not to overlook this on the quest for cycle regularity or fertility. Knowledge is power; increasing your understanding of PCOS can help you to take control over your condition.