Many young women today have Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, also known as PCOS. It can manifest itself with symptoms of severe cramping and pain around one’s period, as well as very long cycles between periods.
Thanks to what we know about a healthy cycle from Fertility Awareness Methods of charting, we have a lot more information about PCOS today and how to treat it. Here are some commonly asked questions about PCOS and some answers.
What is PCOS?
PCOS is a reproductive health disorder that causes cysts to grow on the ovaries, resulting in hormonal imbalances. Many women suffer from PCOS without knowing it, according to Krizia Liquido in her article for Natural Womanhood, “How I Broke Free From PMS Pain.” Statistics show between 10 to 20 percent women have PCOS, yet more than 50 percent are undiagnosed. The cause of PCOS goes back to an excess of exposure before a woman’s birth to a hormone called the anti-Müllerian hormone.
The many symptoms of PCOS can include severe cramps, irregular cycles, cystic acne, chronic fatigue, anxiety, and depression, as well as:
- chronic inflammation
- easy weight gain
- insulin resistance and hyperinsulinemia
- cardiovascular issues
- Type 2 Diabetes
- poor body image or eating disorders
- hair loss or growth
- high levels of androgens
- male-pattern hair growth
- thyroid disorders
If you have some of these symptoms, ask your doctor to order tests and learn to chart your cycle using a Fertility Awareness Method. When consulting with your doctor, it can help speed up your diagnosis if you share your full family history and do not downplay your symptoms. Charting will help you identify abnormal signs, and if you see a doctor who understands fertility awareness charting, they can use this information to diagnose PCOS. Furthermore, making some lifestyle changes such as diet and exercise can help minimize PCOS symptoms.
Does PCOS cause weight gain?
Yes, weight gain is one of the many possible symptoms associated with PCOS. According to the Cleveland Clinic, Women with PCOS do not produce normal insulin levels. “Instead, their bodies over-produce insulin in an attempt to maintain a normal blood sugar level, and this frequently leads to more androgen productions and weight gain.” In turn, this can lead to a frustrating cycle where, as a woman gains weight, her PCOS symptoms can become more severe.
Does PCOS cause depression?
Yes. Studies have found that depression and anxiety are more prevalent in women with PCOS.
The reasons for this are complex, as noted in a study in the Indian Journal of Psychological Medicine. Causing undesirable physical side effects to potential infertility, PCOS “can be deeply stigmatizing to women. In a qualitative study on the subjective experience of PCOS, women described as feeling robbed of their self-concept, essence of being feminine, and attractive.”
Can PCOS be reversed?
As of now, there is no cure, but it can be minimized and monitored with charting and changes to diet and lifestyle. Furthermore, Natural Procreative Technology (NaProTechnology) has been successful in the treatment of PCOS (more on this below).
Can PCOS affect pregnancy?
Yes, a cycle irregularity like PCOS can affect your ability to get pregnant because it can affect how frequently you ovulate, which is necessary to get pregnant.
Will PCOS make me infertile?
It can. PCOS is the most common cause of infertility in women. The hormonal imbalances interfere with ovulation, which can lead to irregular or completely skipped periods, making it difficult or impossible to get pregnant. However, there are some treatments that can help restore ovulation and improve one’s chances of pregnancy, with the help of a NaProTechnology doctor.
What do I do if I have PCOS?
While there currently isn’t a cure for PCOS, there are ways to treat and manage it. Some women with PCOS “have found success with a unique diet, moderate exercise, and use of a progesterone cream,” Lindsay Schlegel writes in an article for Natural Womanhood, “How to Solve Period Issues without the Pill.” A bioidentical form of progesterone can “help regulate the hormones during the woman’s cycle, and thus establish more regular ovulation, with virtually no side effects, because the product is a replica of what the body produces on its own.”
If you are currently on hormonal birth control (a common bandaid fix for PCOS), be aware that hormonal contraceptives can exacerbate the effects of PCOS. Further, being on contraceptives will make it impossible to accurately chart your cycle and get to the bottom of what type of cysts you are experiencing.
NaProTechnology is also advancing the treatment of PCOS. PCOS can be treated with the surgical wedge resection procedure, which reduces the size of the ovaries. Although it currently isn’t a cure, the surgery can provide relief, especially when coupled with a balance to hormones and changes to health and diet, although you should speak to a doctor before making any major diet changes or taking new supplements.