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What PCOS Does and Doesn’t Mean

Next month will mark the second anniversary of PCOS Diet Support. In all of this time I have not written an article on what Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome actually is. I know that seems a little strange but the thing is that a simple Google search will bring up countless sites giving you all the details and facts about PCOS. In this article, I want to share more about what PCOS does and doesn’t mean for the thousands of us who have the diagnosis.

This article is written as a result of hundreds of women giving their input in answering the questions: What does PCOS mean for you? And What does PCOS not mean for you?

What Does PCOS mean?

The unfortunate reality is that PCOS is not an easy diagnosis and can have a major impact on how we feel about ourselves and our bodies and impacts on the core of who we are as women. Here is what PCOS means to the women who  have it:

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No periods

This seems to be one of the biggest complaints about PCOS. It makes sense as Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome is characterised by an irregular menstrual cycle and difficulties with ovulation. Few women celebrate the start of their periods each month, but when you have PCOS, the first sign of a period is definitely something worth celebrating. It means that for once, your body has done what it should do.

Irregular menstrual cycles also can make having a baby much more difficult.

Weight struggles

Women with PCOS often struggle with their weight, putting it on really easily but having huge difficulty losing any of it. Our bodies are often resistant to insulin, causing our bodies to release too much of it. Insulin works to store any excess glucose in the form of fat, giving us the extra weight around the belly that we struggle to lose. Research has shown that losing even 5% of your total body weight can make a significant improvement in your symptoms and women are often told by their doctors to simply lose some weight. This is much easier said than done for women with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome!

Plucking facial hair constantly

What-PCOS-does-and-doesnt-mean-shavingThis is also known as hirsutism and causes hair growth, particularly male pattern hair growth. This is thanks to high testosterone levels and is one of the symptoms that many of us find very difficult. Let’s face it, all of that increased hair doesn’t make us feel particularly attractive and it knocks our self-esteem.

Depression and mood swings

PCOS has been linked with depression and often results in mood swings. It is not just a “physical” condition.  Depression has been linked to high testosterone levels and insulin resistance. The other thing to bear in mind is that the symptoms themselves can impact on our mood, self-esteem and general outlook on life.

Acne

Once again, this symptom can be blamed on high testosterone levels. Women with PCOS often suffer from cystic acne.

On paper, the symptoms seem somewhat manageable and you may be wondering what the big deal is. Well, when you put all of the symptoms together, PCOS can be one tough cookie.

What does PCOS not mean?

Now that we know what PCOS means for so many women, let’s have a look at what it doesn’t mean.

I will never have a family

PCOS does not mean you will never be able to have a family. I am always shocked to hear how many women are told that they are unable to have a family when first diagnosed with PCOS. This is simply untrue! There are thousands of women who have had children of their own in spite of PCOS, either naturally or with the help of fertility medication. I am blessed with two beautiful children who were both conceived naturally. It is possible to have children even if you have PCOS.

I am not beautiful

PCOS does strike at the core of who we are as women and can make us feel less than beautiful. But, that is not the truth! We are beautiful in so many ways. I love this quote from Elisabeth Kubler-Ross. For me, this defines every woman with PCOS!

What-PCOS-does-and-doesnt-mean-beautiful-people

I have an excuse

PCOS does not mean that we have an excuse: to not look after ourselves, to not exercise, to not be the most healthy version of ourselves we can be. Living with PCOS is difficult but its not an excuse. We are responsible for our own health and bodies and we need to make sure that each day we are doing all we can to get PCOS under control, not just for ourselves but for our families, our children and other women with PCOS.

I am alone

What-PCOS-does-and-doesnt-mean-shavingSince starting PCOS Diet Support, I have come across thousands of other women just like me, who face the struggles that I face and who know what it is like to live with PCOS. You may not know many other women with PCOS but you are not alone!

So, today, I want to honour all women with PCOS. I know your struggle and how each day you face PCOS and all that it entails. I honour your fierce determination to overcome PCOS, your bravery in sharing your story with those around you, your tenacity as you keep fighting with often very little support, your compassion as you reach out to other women who have the same struggles you have. Thank you for sharing my journey, for making me feel less alone and for standing with me as we fight PCOS together!

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Tarryn Poulton

Tarryn Poulton

Tarryn Poulton is a PN1 Certified Nutrition Coach and PCOS expert who has been a leader in the online PCOS space for over 8 years. Tarryn has the support of leading clinicians from around the world who support her scientific approach to understanding and talking about PCOS this includes all medical journals and ongoing research. You can read more about Tarryn and the team here.

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21 Responses

21 Responses

  1. Thanks for this, I’m 22 and I just got diagnosed of PCOS after months of feeling unwell, honestly I’m very confused about how to go about it because my doctor didn’t really say much

  2. PCOS is also never an excuse to treat someone like garbage just because it causes some uncomfortable symptoms, like anxiety and depression. I suffer from a very horrible, horrible anxiety disorder so bad, I used to pass out and have other really horrible symptoms but I NEVER treated anyone like garbage at all. In fact, because a lot of the time I feel bad on the inside, I try to OVER COMPENSATE and treat others better than I treat myself. Yeah, it is unhealthy just the same, but… I just wanted to put that out there.

  3. Hi thank you so much for giving this article. Why because your words repent me from mental disorders.I was just worried about my pcos.this article made wonders in my life.now I have a hope, to beaten this pcos

  4. I was diagnosed at 21, I have all the symptoms. I’m married and I’m 36 now, no kids. Nobody else I know has this problem. I’m the only gal in my girlfriend pack who is childless. It’s difficult explaining my problems to them. I hate that everyone assumes I hate kids because I don’t have any.

    1. Through the many articles that I’ve read, I have seen advantages to going gluten free and dairy free. I myself have had to it out for other reasons, but I have seen a difference in my body. It has changed the effects PCOS has on me daily. It might be worth a try 🙂 Keep strong.

    2. I didn’t know I had pcos until I tried to get pregnant with my 2nd child. See I was taking the pill so my cycles were “normal”. When I came off the pill I thought I was pregnant in the first month. Long story short God knew the plans he had for me & my husband. After 8 long years of praying, frequent Dr appts, dnc’s, fertility meds and so much more, I gave birth to my 2nd son. Don’t give up hope!!

  5. Hello Tarryn I wanted to ask you a question regarding inositol. I ordered the powdered form how much folic acid should I take with it? Also if I am not ttc just yet, because I am finishing college would you recommend me taking this with Birth control?

  6. Thank you for your article! I recently learned that I have PCOS and it has had a huge effect on me emotionally having a fight of my own struggling with bulimia and body dismorphia for most of my life. Last year I lost almost 20 pounds of my already healthy weight thanks to this, I recovered most of it, got to a healthy weight and started gaining more and more and then I discovered I have PCOS.

    I honestly haven’t felt pretty in a long time, I have acne, I’ve gained weight, my clothes don’t fit me anymore and I’m an emotional rollercoaster.

    My nutritionist is helping me and I’m struggling and fighting to get better. It gives me peace of mind to know that I’m not alone.

    Thank you

  7. Hi Tarryn, my name is Sharren and I joined your support website about a month or so ago. Im 26 and have recently been diagnosed with PCOS and I must admit it is very scary especially thinking about the future and health problems. I just want to say Thank you for providing us with such useful and supporting information. This website has given me so much confidence in living with this condition and not letting it get me down.

    Typically my doctors just guinea pigged me off with birth control called microgynon which I have read is the worst for PCOS as it does nothing and out of all one called Yasmin is supposed to be beneficial but is more expensive for the NHS (uk health service) which is another story however, I am using your help and other guidelines to help me get through this so again, I just want to say thank you so much for your help :Dxx

    1. P.S sorry and a great thank you to my fellow members who have posted information and insight on this also. I have found great help in this website and I can’t thank you enough for the encouragement and support I have found here, so again Thank you x

  8. Its always so lovely to read tips and advice, anything that can help. I have tried to be strong but I have not had a period in a year and 4months and I just don’t think its coming. Sometimes I feel so low because I don’t feel like a normal woman, I know PCOS is common but yet we cant stop feeling alone. Does anyone have any advice on how to deal with these low moments?

  9. Pingback: A missed cycle and the need to stop making excuses | All we can do is hope
  10. Thank you for this article. It is a daily struggle living with PCOS, and experiencing little to no help or undertanding of PCOS. What has been extremely frustrating is trying to get the necessary help to lose weight and your insurance company denies you simply because you have not been diagnosed with Diabetes, or High Cholesterol. It is a struggle with all of the symptoms that associated. Your website is truly informational and encouraging to see other women going through the exact things that I am.

  11. Thanks for the article but some of us have the opposite of No Periods. I have PCOS and my period is every two weeks so…sometimes its very difficult to celebrate it.

    1. I have not had a period for six months at one point. But I also do have the other extreme. I had my period for six weeks off for two days or a week then it started up again. Most recently, I have had to limit my dairy and gluten intake because of allergies. And now I have a period every month. The number of days in between may very, but it’s usually pretty consistent. The cramps have gotten much better as well.

  12. Can you have PCOS together with heavy periods and normal weight if you’re in your early 20s? (I do have belly fat, acne, and hirsutism….

  13. Thank you for this wonderfully written post. Yes, PCOS really does knock on your self esteem! Especially in a society where women are harshly criticized for not being entirely feminine. Its hard. I also thought conceiving would almost never happened. Ive been with my boyfriend for 3 years and now im pregnant! Pcos doesn’t make life as a women impossible, just a tad bit more difficult.

  14. Thank you for this timely article, just what I need to be reminded of. I have 3 beautiful children and now that my family is complete I lack the motivation to stay on track. This article reminds I don’t have any excuses and I need to be a great example for my 2 daughters, as who knows what the future will hold for them regarding PCOS.

  15. Thanks Taryn, I really needed article today. I have been struggling with staying motivated, feeling yuck and also a little hopeless. This article has reminded me that i do have some control over PCOS. Just the boost I needed.

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