When women come to my office with any one or all of the following complaints, I see this as an important opportunity to change a woman’s life for the better. The signs and symptoms of PCOS are:
- No periods for > 3 months
- Excessive bleeding
- Difficulty losing weight
- Excessive hair growth
The birth control pill can mask the symptoms of PCOS
If a woman with PCOS has been on birth control pills for years, many of their symptoms have been masked. When they go off the pill to try to get pregnant or are switching to an IUD or Implant, after a few months, they may start to see increased acne, hair growth, weight gain and no periods. Understandably, most blame the IUD or Implant, but it’s the absence of the pill that’s leading to symptoms.
It can take years to get a proper diagnosis
Many women with PCOS have seen multiple other health care providers and haven’t received an accurate diagnosis. PCOS impacts many aspects of a woman’s life, including her weight, appearance, self-esteem, sense of shame and guilt as well as fears of infertility.
Not your fault
All throughout the evaluation and care, it’s also important to address and validate repeatedly that this condition is not the woman’s fault. No woman would ever choose to have increased hair growth, more acne, and difficulty losing weight. All of these affect a woman’s self-esteem and many women wonder if they are causing this from their diet or perhaps lack of exercise.
Treatments are available
When considering Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, I like to explain to my patients that it’s important to think of the cysts in the ovary as only one aspect of a complex endocrine disorder that includes insulin resistance, an increased risk of pre-diabetes and diabetes, heavy bleeding, increased risk for uterine cancer and infertility. With a diagnosis, treatment options can be offered to suppress the male type hormones, known as androgens, correct the insulin resistance and help relieve the irregular bleeding.
2 Great resources for women with PCOS