How well do you know Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)? For instance, do you know that PCOS is not a disease but a disorder? Read on to find out eleven widely held beliefs about PCOS which are false.
MYTH #1: PCOS is a disease
PCOS is not a disease and certainly not a disease of the ovaries. It is caused by a disorder of the body's endocrine system and metabolism which affects not only the ovaries but other parts of the body. Besides, not everyone with this disorder has ovarian cysts, so polycystic ovaries alone as a symptom, do not qualify as a full diagnosis for PCOS.
MYTH #2: PCOS is a rare condition
No, it is a common condition. Apparently, a lot of women are riddled with this disorder, though very few consult a physician to have them diagnosed and treated. Hence fewer cases are recorded giving credence to the misconception that it is uncommon. A 2012 WHO stat showed that PCOS had affected 116 million women globally. An even alarming stat also showed that 10 per cent of women of child-bearing age in the USA have PCOS. That's about 5 million women, making PCOS the most common hormonal, endocrine disorder affecting women of reproductive age in the US.
MYTH #3: We know what causes PCOS
Medicine is yet to pinpoint the exact cause of PCOS. For one thing, it varies from woman to woman. However, it is believed that factors like genetics, lifestyle, diet, environment and behavior may also contribute to the condition.
MYTH #4: You don't need to make PCOS a part of your regular checkups like Breast Cancer or Cervical Cancer
No. Most PCOS symptoms may go unnoticed because they are mild and may not directly be linked to the disorder. But undiagnosed and untreated PCOS may degenerate into a more serious health condition. For instance, PCOS has been connected to infertility, heart disease, diabetes and sleep apnea. Early detection can reduce your risks for some of these conditions. Here is how a diagnosis of PCOS is carried out.
MYTH #5: Everyone with PCOS has Polycystic ovaries or ovarian cysts.
No. Not every woman with PCOS has this type of ovaries or cysts. Besides, Polycystic ovaries are a symptom of PCOS and not a cause. These cysts are harmless even though they cause hormonal imbalance. They also differ from cysts that rapture and cause severe pain and internal bleeding.
MYTH #6: Having irregular menstrual periods means you have PCOS
Irregular periods are one of the symptoms of PCOS. However, alone they cannot be used to determine that one has PCOS. Your physician will need to consider other symptoms to arrive at a conclusive diagnosis of PCOS. Besides, irregular menstrual periods can be caused by other conditions like pregnancy or a thyroid disorder or too much exercising. Your doctor has to rule out all these before diagnosing you with PCOS.
MYTH #7: You need an ultrasound to get diagnosed with PCOS
Not always. A PCOS diagnosis can be as simple as your doctor asking you a few questions about your symptoms, mental or menstrual history and then performing a physical exam on you. They may however need to dig deeper because the results from the first exam show you may have the condition. In this case, they may ask more questions, do some blood work to check your hormones, blood sugar and then do an ultrasound of your ovaries and uterus.
MYTH #8: Birth control is used to cure PCOS
Basically, PCOS has no cure. It is managed or treated. Birth control is usually prescribed as a first-line treatment. Most doctors will advise that patients make some lifestyle changes before putting them on birth control. At other times, they are put on birth control and asked to make some lifestyle changes. Other medications may also be prescribed to balance hormones or regulate blood sugar.
MYTH #9: Medication is the only treatment for PCOS
Making some adjustments like dietary changes, being more physically active and quitting smoking are other ways of treating PCOS aside medication. Some women also resort to alternate or herbal medicine though enough research is needed to support the effectiveness of this kind of treatment.
MYTH #10: Women with PCOS do not ovulate
Women with PCOS do ovulate but very infrequently, usually once a month. That's why most women with PCOS are infertile.
MYTH #11: You do not need to use birth control because you have PCOS
Yes, you do. The general perception is that women with PCOS cannot get pregnant because they are infertile or ovulate infrequently. But infrequent or unpredictable ovulation does not mean the complete absence of ovulation so you cannot rule out the possibility of pregnancy occurring. A woman with PCOS still ovulates no matter how irregularly and can still get pregnant. Thus, women with the condition having vaginal intercourse must use some form of birth control method to prevent unwanted pregnancies.
Disclaimer: The information shared by this post is for informational purposes only. It is not meant to be professional medical advice nor a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Consult your physician concerning anything you have read here.
By Nana Ama Afoa Osae I Writer I GreatWonderful Team
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