Picturing PCOS: What It Is & How To Sur-Thrive

It’s hard to believe that an acronym as small as PCOS can have such a big effect on a person’s life. PCOS, or Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, is an endocrine disorder that effects up to 15% of people who menstruate. There is currently no cure for PCOS and no clear understanding of what causes PCOS to develop in the first place. Many people are left confused and scared both by the myriad of symptoms, but also about their future ability to lead fulfilled and healthy lives. So let’s get into the nitty-gritty of all things PCOS.

Most Common Symptoms

PCOS effects many systems in the body and a person can experience a large number of seemingly unconnected symptoms. Below are four of the most common, but there are many more than just on this list.

  1. Cystsers Unite!: One of the classic, tell-tale signs of PCOS are multiple cysts on the ovaries. These cysts develop in the follicle where the egg would normally be released. This can disrupt normal menstruation cycles as well as impact fertility due to lower instances of ovulation. Many people have no symptoms of these cysts, but they can be very painful, especially if they rupture.
  2. Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow: That’s right one of the best diagnostic tools is your hair. Because of the raised levels of male androgens in the blood many people with PCOS experience male-pattern baldness as well as excessive growth of hair on faces, stomachs, and chests. This can of course be very unsettling but there are a number temporary and permanent options available for dealing with unwanted hair including shaving, waxing, and electrolysis.
  3. When It Rains, It Pours: Another of the most common symptoms of PCOS are irregular (or absent), painful, and heavy periods. Some people experience periods that can last for weeks or even months, while others don’t have one at all. This of course can affect your quality of life due to the discomfort and unpredictability of your monthly flow, but also can have implications for fertility.
  4. Gains & Losses: The metabolic symptoms of PCOS are also a common component of diagnosis. PCOS can cause a person to put on excess weight easily, while also making it extremely difficult to lose. This can also lead to insulin resistance and for many diabetes.[1]

Tips For Sur-Thriving With PCOS

With all of the doom and gloom around PCOS symptoms it is hard to imagine a life that is happy, healthy, and fulfilling but fear not cysters below are some tips to help you live your best life.

  1. Extra! Extra! Read All About It: Getting educated and staying informed about this condition is critical. PCOS has begun to receive attention from the medical community with new research being produced and new treatment protocols being offered. Staying current on your condition helps you to make informed decisions and take a holistic approach to your health.
  2. The Balancing Act: A healthy diet is one way to see immediate improvement in many PCOS symptoms. Visit Soul Cysters for delicious PCOS-friendly recipes. Because of the metabolic component of PCOS there are certain dietary considerations to keep in mind when planning meals.
    • One such consideration is avoiding sugar as much as possible. It not only helps to sensitize your cells to insulin again and restore them to normal functioning, but also helps to reduce many of the inflammatory symptoms such as joint pain.[2]
    • Eating whole foods and good fats are also critical to maintaining your health. These food groups can help to control cholesterol, blood sugar and pressure, as well as improve body composition and mange weight.
  3. Get Into The Groove: Movement is important for everyone to stay healthy, but especially for people who have PCOS. Finding movement that helps bring you joy and vitality will not only help treat some of your current PCOS symptoms but will also help to prevent some potential future health complications. Try something fun like belly dancing, swim aerobics, or taking a walk in nature, your mind, body, and soul will thank you![3]

  4. Treat Yo-self: Self-care is an important part of thriving with PCOS. Focusing on ‘you-time’ helps with stress management, improves sleep, and lifts your mood which this condition can all effect. Try incorporating things such as mindfulness meditation, at-home spa days, or even a few extra minutes in a hot shower. The Hormone Diva has a list of self-care activities that are solely focused on PCOS wellness. Anything that leaves you feeling relaxed and centered will go a long way.

So now that you have a better understanding about what PCOS is and how live well after diagnosis what else can be done about PCOS? The medical community is now starting to focus time and resources on answering that question. One very important step is focusing studies on the lived experiences of people who deal with PCOS on a daily basis. DivaCup has partnered with the OM Health Study to help gather this important data. If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with PCOS please consider being a part of this study as it will provide critical insights into this condition.

[1] https://www.womenshealth.gov/a-z-topics/polycystic-ovary-syndrome#9

[2] http://www.pcosaa.org/what-is-an-ovarian-cyst

[3] http://www.pcosaa.org/pcos-symptoms

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