What is polycystic ovary syndrome, and do I have it?
So you’re going through puberty, and lots of girls seem to be growing boobs and bums, but you’re growing lots of body hair. What’s going on?
Well – puberty affects everyone differently, and it might be that you’re just developing in a different way to your friends. But there’s also a surprisingly common condition that might be at fault, called polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS.)
Here’s Fumble’s guide to everything you need to know about it.
What exactly is Polycystic Ovary Syndrome?
PCOS is a condition that affects the function of a woman’s ovaries – those little organs in the female reproductive system that grow eggs. It causes small, harmless cysts or follicles to grow on the ovaries.
This stops eggs from being released, which makes it harder to become pregnant.
PCOS is very common – it’s estimated that approximately 1 in 5 women have it in the UK. Over half of these women don’t have symptoms.
Signs and Symptoms
This all sounds pretty complex, right? So here are some of the symptoms that you may want to look out for:
🔍 Irregular periods or no periods
🔍 Trouble getting pregnant
🔍 Excessive hair growth-normally on the face, chest, back, or bum
🔍 Weight gain
🔍 Hair thinning or hair loss from the head
🔍 Acne or oily skin
Now you know some of the symptoms of PCOS, let’s talk about what causes it. Well, the precise cause of polycystic ovary syndrome isn’t known.
But experts believe it is related to hormone imbalances. These hormones are chemical messengers that help your body function in different ways, affecting things like reproduction, hunger regulation, and emotions.
Hormones involved in PCOS include:
👉 Testosterone: This is often thought of as the “male” hormone, but women have some too. Women with PCOS often have higher levels
👉 Insulin: Women with PCOS usually have high levels of insulin, which makes the ovaries produce more testosterone.
👉 Progesterone: This is the “sex” hormone, which prepares your body for pregnancy and plays a role in the menstrual cycle. Some women with PCOS may have low levels of this hormone.
PCOS may also be genetic. If any of your female relatives have PCOS, you could be at an increased risk of developing it. However, anyone can develop PCOS, even if none of your relatives have it.
If you think you might be suffering from PCOS, the first thing you should do is go and see your GP. They can run a bunch of tests to see if you have it or not.
If you have been diagnosed with PCOS, you may be feeling a little overwhelmed. That’s totally normal and okay. Don’t be hard on yourself.
So what do you do now?
💭 It’s important to know that none of this is your fault. It may be hard to process and you may feel down about it. But don’t worry, you’re going to be okay!
💭 Be sure to surround yourself with supportive family and friends who you can talk to about PCOS.
💭 Follow inspiring people with PCOS on Instagram. Harnaam Kaur is totally rocking the beard, and you can too! If you want to shave your extra hair, that’s fine, but don’t feel like you have to.
💭 A healthy diet and plenty of exercise may make some symptoms better.
💭 There’s medication to treat symptoms of excessive hair growth, irregular periods, and fertility problems.
💭 Remember you are amazing and fabulous. Lots of people have PCOS and they are nailing life. Do whatever feels right for you.