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September is PCOS Awareness Month

PCOS WomenPCOS or Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome is quite common, with 11% of women diagnosed across the globe and accounting for 40% of all natural conception infertility. This month we bring awareness to women who have PCOS to help family, friends and colleagues understand. We also want those who may have symptoms to be prompted to speak to their GP post read.

What is PCOS?

Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) is a complex hormonal condition that is associated with irregular periods, excessive facial and body hair, acne, obesity, and reduced fertility.  It can lead to higher-than-normal amounts of male hormones. This hormone imbalance causes menstrual cessation or skipping, making it more challenging to get pregnant.

The term “polycystic ovaries (PCO)” refers to an abundance of follicles in the ovaries. Approximately 1 in 5 women have a PCO appearance but have regular periods and are healthy and well.

PCOS Symptoms

It’s important to understand the symptoms if you one day want to have children. People with PCOS might suffer from all of these symptoms or only some of them: 
  • Abnormal or irregular menstrual cycles with very light OR very heavy bleeding 
  • Excess weight with a high body mass index - many women with PCOS report gaining weight more easily 
  • A feeling of bloating and heaviness in the lower abdomen 
  • Areas of darker skin pigmentation 
  • Abnormal amounts of facial and body hair related to higher levels of androgens 
  • Acne

Treatments for PCOS?

Although PCOS is not curable, there are steps you can take to decrease the severity of symptoms, these include:
  • Keep a healthy lifestyle which can mean keeping active and eating healthy foods. Weight plays a significant role which is why we recommend keeping a body mass index in the healthy range (18.5-24.9). Speak to your GP if you need to lose weight as they will be able to help you achieve and sustain this goal.
  • Women who have PCOS have a higher chance of developing type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, heart problems, and endometrial cancer. It is recommended you speak to your GP who can work on a treatment plan to minimise your risk.
  • Medications such as birth control are used to decrease symptoms when you’re not looking to fall pregnant. However, if you want to conceive, clomiphene, letrozole and gonadotrophins may help you ovulate. Speak to your GP or Genea Fertility GP to find out which treatment is best for your individual needs.
  • There is also a surgical treatment called laparoscopic ovarian drilling, requiring a general anesthetic.
If you suffer from irregular, prolonged or absent cycles, talk to a fertility GP or chat to our Genea Fertility Advisor who can assist you with next steps here