September is known as Sexual Health Awareness month and during this time, I believe it is important to address issues or concerns that go beyond unplanned pregnancies and STDs. Don’t get me wrong, those are very important topics that need to be discussed, however, over the years they have become the highlight of sexual health awareness. Therefore, I believe it is necessary to be informed of other issues that could impact sexual health. With this in mind, I wanted to write about Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, also known as PCOS, a very common hormonal disorder that affects women of all ages.
PCOS is caused by the imbalance of reproductive hormones in females. Usually, women diagnosed with PCOS produce a higher amount of androgens, the male hormone, which leads to irregular or no periods at all, acne and excessive hair growth. The hormone imbalance primarily affects the ovaries and may prevent the egg from releasing during ovulation. High levels of insulin may also result in PCOS. This hormonal disorder is extremely common amongst females especially those ranging from ages 15-44. In fact, around 10% of women are diagnosed with PCOS during their lifetime. Now you may be wondering if there is any medication or treatment for this hormonal imbalance, and unfortunately, there is no cure as of yet but there still are so many ways you can reduce the symptoms!
One of the most helpful ways of eliminating PCOS symptoms is maintaining a healthy lifestyle with nutritious meals and exercise. This can improve the way your body manages insulin levels and will also help in lowering androgens. With this being said, it does not mean that you have to completely cut out your favorite foods or lose a substantial amount of weight to be healthier. In fact, many women diagnosed with PCOS already have a healthy weight but just need to be a little bit more physically active and add heart-healthy foods into their diet.
Another way PCOS can be controlled is by taking medications such as birth control pills or Metformin. As we all know, birth control prevents ovulation and many PCOS patients opt for this type of medication because it reduces the number of cysts on the ovary. It also helps shed the uterine lining. If you do not get our period regularly, the uterine lining will become thicker and this can ultimately lead to endometrial cancer. Metformin is used for the treatment of diabetes to help lower insulin levels and can also help women with PCOS lose weight and restore ovulation.
Although PCOS is a very common hormonal disorder amongst women, it should not be taken lightly. Please, consult your doctor if you have experienced irregularity with menstruation or continue to have trouble with acne, hair growth or even weight loss. If you want to talk to women who have already been diagnosed regarding their journey or for any tips, there are so many support groups you can reach out to such as the PCOS Awareness Association. I understand that PCOS does not have a cure, but it is very manageable and there are so many women who have had kids and lived very healthy and happy lives with PCOS!