Questions to Ask Your Doctor About PCOS

When you receive a new diagnosis, you should become your own advocate—do your own research, find resources in your community, and start an open dialogue with your physician. This is especially true when you have polycystic ovarian syndrome (often abbreviated as PCOS). With PCOS, your doctor can be a particularly important source of knowledge and support.

You should feel heard and respected by your doctor. When you ask questions, pay attention not only to their answers and opinions on the various treatment options, but also the way in which they respond. Do they seem patient? Understanding? Happy to help? Their demeanor can help you determine if that particular doctor is the right one for you.

If your doctor sounds rushed or impatient, talks down to you or dismisses your concerns, you should consider finding another doctor. PCOS is a lifelong condition, and you want to have a caring physician on your team.

Here are five questions you should ask your doctor about PCOS.

Should You See a Specialist?

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Most OB/GYNs, nurse practitioners, and certified nurse midwives will help you manage your PCOS. However, you'll want to make sure that yours has varied experience taking care of women with PCOS. 

If they don't, you may want to consider seeing an endocrinologist, a specialist in hormonal disorders.

Ask your doctor for recommendations for an endocrinologist (or reproductive endocrinologist) who has a good reputation for working with people with PCOS.

Do You Have to Take the Pill?

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Although taking hormonal contraception is a very common approach to PCOS, the birth control pill is merely one of your treatment options.

Some women may not be comfortable taking the pill—past side effects, religious beliefs, or the desire to balance hormones in a more natural way are all common reasons.

If you are uncomfortable with taking the birth control pill and your doctor is not willing to work with you to find another treatment, you may want to find a different doctor.

At the very least, get a second opinion.

Are You Insulin Resistant?

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Insulin resistance is a well-known and documented issue in women with PCOS. Insulin resistance occurs when the body is unable to use the insulin it produces to lower blood sugar levels.

For this reason, many specialists use insulin-lowering drugs to help women with PCOS manage their symptoms.

Before you start a prescription, ask your healthcare provider to test you for insulin resistance.This is usually done with a blood test.

If tests do show you to be resistant, medications (such as metformin) can help your body use insulin properly and reduce your risk for diabetes. Research also shows that insulin-lowering medications can help to promote ovulation in women with PCOS.

What Weight Loss Support Should You Pursue?

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Many studies have shown that even moderate weight loss can be helpful in reducing androgen levels and symptoms of PCOS. That being said, there are doctors who still discount the effectiveness of weight loss in treating PCOS. 

If you deal with weight issues, like many women with PCOS, this should at least be part of your evaluation and subsequent discussion.

If you want to lose weight, ask your doctor about the support they can give you in starting a weight loss journey.

Weight loss support options can include working with a nutritionist, support groups, apps, and even medications that can promote weight loss.

How Should You Monitor Yourself for Complications?

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Heart disease, diabetes, endometrial cancer and metabolic syndrome are all associated conditions for people who struggle with PCOS.

Thankfully, it's easy to reduce risk factors for these through a few simple lifestyle changes, like incorporating regular exercise into your routine.

Your doctor should be able to give you practical advice and help you set realistic goals for making these changes. If your doctor is unable or unwilling to discuss this with you and answer your questions, consider finding a new doctor to work with.

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