There are a lot of misconceptions out there when it comes to PCOS. People often make assumptions and it can be hard to work out fact from fiction. Heck, we often even struggle to get a straight answer from our doctors.
So, let’s have a look at 15 facts that you need to know about PCOS.
1. PCOS may start in the brain, not the ovaries.
This is something that has just very recently come to light. Researchers in Australia have found that mice and rats that did not have androgen receptors in the brain could not develop PCOS. However, if the rats had no androgen receptors in the ovaries, they could still develop PCOS.
This is ground breaking research and may well help to develop more treatment options, or even a cure, for PCOS (1).
2. Weight loss with PCOS is difficult but not impossible
This is often one of the most difficult and frustrating symptoms of PCOS. So many women are told that they need to lose weight to see an improvement in their PCOS symptoms but very few doctors tell them how to go about it.
The thing is that traditional weight loss strategies are often not effective with PCOS as they don’t address the underlying hormonal disorder.
The good news is that if you can get your PCOS and hormones under control, you should also start to lose weight. To find out more about how to lose weight with PCOS, why not check out The PCOS Weight Loss Execution Plan?
3. PCOS doesn’t go away after menopause
Many women have asked me if PCOS goes away after menopause. And the answer is, “No”. You see, there is a fundamental change in the pancreas of women with PCOS that leads to disorders in regulating and processing insulin. This does not change post menopause.
But, it is not all bad news. Some symptoms do improve. For example, post menopause, we tend to not put on more weight, as women without PCOS often do.
To read more about PCOS mean for you post menopause, why not check out this article.
4. Insulin plays a huge role in PCOS
You may have often heard that women with PCOS tend to be insulin resistant (not all of us but a lot of us are). But, there is also more to it than that. You see, we have a tendency to produce too much insulin. That insulin impacts on our ovaries, causing them to produce too much testosterone.
And it is that testosterone that leads to a lot of the symptoms of PCOS. So, if you want to get your PCOS under control, you have to consider your insulin levels. And one of the best ways to manage those insulin levels is to change the way that you eat.
5. PCOS makes you ache and really tired
PCOS is linked with chronic inflammation. And chronic inflammation can leave you feeling achey, fatigued and contributes to weight gain (2). This generalised fatigue is something that women often write to me about.
So, the good news is that there are some things you can do about it. Make sure you are taking Omega 3 (anti inflammatory) and following a good PCOS diet (did you know that inflammation has also been linked to insulin resistance?)
6. PCOS gives you cravings, BUT those cravings can be beaten
Cravings? You know what I’m talking about! If you have PCOS, then I’m sure you are very familiar with all of the cravings that come with PCOS. They can so easily derail our good intentions.
The goods news is that they can be beaten and managed. As you start to address your insulin levels and get your underlying PCOS hormones under control, your cravings get better.
Also, I have found for myself, and many other women have reported the same, that supplementing with Inositol or Ovasitol is really helpful in managing cravings, as well as helping with PCOS in so many other way.
7. It is possible to get pregnant naturally with PCOS
PCOS is one the leading causes of infertility in women. And I can’t tell you how many emails I have received from women whose doctors told them that they will never conceive with PCOS. This is so often not the case.
I have two beautiful children, both of whom were conceived naturally. It is possible! If you can get those underlying PCOS hormones under control, you are more likely to have a regular cycle and ovulate more frequently, enabling you to conceive.
If you would like more information on PCOS and Fertility, why not get a copy of my free ebook, “PCOS and Fertility: How diet can help”?
8. PCOS puts us at risk for a lot of secondary health issues
Unfortunately, when we think about PCOS, we shouldn’t just think about what it means for us right now. We also need to consider how it could affect us when we are older.
You see, there are a lot of secondary health issues associated with PCOS. Things like: Type 2 Diabetes, heart disease, high cholesterol. It’s not a pretty picture. That is why it is so important that we do everything that we can now to get our PCOS under control. So that we don’t have to suffer from these secondary conditions.
9. A hysterectomy isn’t the answer
When we think of PCOS, we tend to think of it purely as a gynaecological problem. There is something wrong with our ovaries and we don’t have a period every month. But it is so much more than that. And so many women think that a hysterectomy will solve the problem.
But the truth is, it won’t. You see, PCOS is fundamentally a hormone disorder. We have problem with our pancreas and the way that we process insulin, our adrenal glands seem to be affected as well, and as per point 1 – it may all start in the brain anyway.
So, having your uterus and ovaries removed is not the answer to your PCOS and symptoms.
10. An integrative practitioner might be helpful
When thinking about seeing a doctor for our PCOS, we tend to look for an endocrinologist or gynaecologist. But, an integrative medicine practitioner could provide amazing value for you and your PCOS.
Although Dr Gersh is a board certified gynaecologist and has been practising for over 30 years, she does not believe in medications to manage PCOS but prefers to look at the gut microbiome first and foremost. I know you may not be able to access Dr Gersh, but another integrative medicine practitioner in your area may well be able to help.
11. That belly fat is often caused by insulin
One of the classic signs of someone with insulin issues is a lot of weight carried around the mid section. If you have PCOS, I’m sure you know exactly what I’m talking about. Insulin causes us to store fat around our bellies.
Now, before you start doing planks and crunches to get rid of that belly fat, think about it first. If that belly fat is caused by insulin, then to get rid of it, we have to look at how to manage insulin. And one of the best ways to manage insulin is to change the way that you eat.
It all comes back to following a good PCOS diet.
12. There is no cure but it can be managed
At the moment there is no cure for PCOS. I really hope that the cure will be found in my lifetime. But until that time, I am stuck with my PCOS. So I need to learn how to manage it and manage it properly.
And thankfully, it can be managed. There are things that we can do to manage and even improve our symptoms. Things like eating well, taking the right supplements, making lifestyle changes. To find out more about some of the things that you can do to manage your PCOS, why not have a look at my free ebook "5 Steps to Mastering PCOS"?
13. PCOS is not fair
Very often, we fall into the trap of feeling like we have been short-changed with this PCOS diagnosis. And I get it. I have gone through times of being angry and frustrated with my PCOS. I have also asked, “Why me?”
But here’s the thing. Life is not fair and living with PCOS is just one of those things. My husband has celiac disease as well as Type 1 Diabetes. It’s not fair on him either.
So, we have a choice to make. We can choose to go on as we are, ignoring the symptoms and all that PCOS means for us, or we can take a stand, acknowledge it for what it is and decide that we will not let PCOS define who we are. We can make daily decisions to get our PCOS under control and live the life that we deserve, without PCOS getting in our way.
14. PCOS Does Not Define You
I have lived with PCOS for a long time. I know all about the symptoms and how they make me feel. I’ll be honest with you. I wish my tummy was more toned and that I looked more athletic. I wish that my legs weren’t quite as hairy and that a trip to the beach didn’t take quite as much preparation as it does. I wish that I could eat what I wanted with out thinking how it would impact on my PCOS.
But I can’t. And that is okay with me. Because my hairy legs, untoned tummy and crazy cravings do not define me. PCOS is not who I am. It is something that I have. I am so much more than any of my PCOS symptoms. And so are you.
15. You are a warrior
I don’t know you but I know that if you have PCOS, you are a warrior. You may not win every battle every day. You may stumble and fall. But that doesn’t mean that you are not fighting.
PCOS is something that we will always have and will always battle. But you are never alone in your battle. And there are some amazing weapons that you have in your arsenal to deal with PCOS. To find out more about some of those tools, why not check out The PCOS Master Plan training series.
So, those are the 15 truths you need to know about PCOS. Have I left anything out? Leave a comment below and let me know!