11 Things You Will Only Know If You Have PCOS

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Have polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)? You are not alone. Here are 11 things you would only know if you suffer from PCOS.

Being Heavy Doesn’t Mean You're Unhealthy

One of the biggest misconceptions about women with PCOS who are overweight is that they eat too much and don’t exercise. Not true! Women with PCOS tend to suffer from a metabolic issue called insulin resistance. Insulin is a powerful growth hormone in the body that promotes fat storage (better known as weight gain). Despite eating a healthy diet that is calorically appropriate along with regular exercise, women with PCOS can still gain weight.

Insulin resistance also makes it difficult to lose weight even with changes to diet and exercise. An inability to lose weight doesn't mean women with PCOS are unhealthy - and many are able to improve their labs and optimize their health with lifestyle changes that don't necessarily lead to weight loss.

Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow

Hair loss is a significant concern among women with PCOS. Worrying about constantly thinning hair and the possibility of baldness later in life can be alarming and flat out terrifying.

There is help. The medication spironolactone, which is often prescribed for PCOS, can show a remarkably noticeable difference in slowing or preventing hair loss.

A Sweet Tooth the Size of Texas

Craving sweets all the time, even after breakfast, lunch, or dinner, is commonly reported in women with PCOS. Why? Insulin acts as an appetite stimulant that prompts us to eat more carbohydrate-rich foods.

Fight cravings by spreading carbohydrates out evenly throughout the day, focus your meals on protein, get regular exercise, and take insulin-lowering medications and supplements as directed by your doctor.

You're Sorry for What You Said When You Were Hangry

Erratic fluctuations in blood sugar and insulin levels can cause blood sugar levels to plummet. Low blood sugar can cause unpleasant side effects like headaches, dizziness, irritability, and anger, also known as “being hangry” (anger brought on by hunger).

Wild Mood Shifts

Feeling fine one minute and then angry, anxious, or depressed the next? Not a surprise. Women with PCOS have been found to have higher rates of anxiety and depression than women without the syndrome. If you feel you can’t get a handle on your mood changes, consider seeking the advice of a trained mental health professional.

It Takes Months to Lose 5 Pounds and Only 1 Day to Gain 5 Pounds

Weight loss can be very slow in women with PCOS. Ever start a diet with a friend who doesn’t have PCOS and she ends up dropping weight but you don't? And the weight that you fight to lose can be quickly gained right back? Insulin resistance is likely to blame.

Baby Dreams

Even if you’re not currently trying to have a baby, you still wonder if you will ever be a mother. PCOS is the main cause of ovulatory infertility. Sometimes women will say their doctors told them upon receiving their diagnosis that it will be very difficult, if not impossible, to conceive on their own. This information can cause more distress in women who are already distressed enough.

Luckily, advancements in reproductive medicine are making it possible for more women with PCOS to become mothers than ever before. Keep discussing possibilities with your doctor and never give up hope.

You're Not a Teenager, but You Still Have Acne

Feel like you have paid your dues and then some with acne as a teenager but still get full on pimples as an adult? Higher levels of testosterone are typically to blame. Changes to your diet and androgen-blocking medications can help to reduce the appearance of acne.

The Need to Be Close to the Bathroom

If you take metformin, you know what this means! A common side effect of the popular diabetes drug is diarrhea after eating a high carbohydrate meal.

It’s Not About Cysts

Women with PCOS don’t have cysts. Really. They are tiny follicles that surround the ovaries. Changing the name of PCOS to one that doesn’t focus on cysts or ovaries has even been proposed. ​

You're Not Alone

At least 10% of the female population in the United States has PCOS, making it the most common endocrine disorder among women of childbearing age. Even though it may feel like it, you are not alone.

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