Up to 5 million American women are living with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). This complex hormonal disorder can have far-reaching effects on your life — from your fertility to your physical appearance.
Dealing with the symptoms of PCOS can be frustrating, but you’re not alone. September is PCOS Awareness Month, and our team at Women’s Health Specialists is working to destigmatize the symptoms and help women get the care they need.
Here’s what you need to know about the ways PCOS can impact your health, your fertility, and your appearance.
PCOS and your overall health
Your hormones play a critical role in your overall well-being, and the hormonal imbalances that come with PCOS can impact your health in a number of ways. For example, PCOS is linked to insulin resistance, a condition that develops when your body's cells don’t respond effectively to insulin.
Insulin resistance can lead to high blood sugar levels. This increases your risk of health conditions like Type 2 diabetes, obesity, and metabolic syndrome, and over half of women with PCOS develop Type 2 diabetes by age 40.
PCOS can also elevate levels of the male hormone androgen in your body. High androgen levels contribute to a number of physical changes. They can also interfere with your menstrual cycles, making them irregular or absent.
Along with insulin resistance and high androgen levels, many women with PCOS struggle to maintain a healthy weight. PCOS can cause weight gain and make it difficult to lose weight, even if you eat a healthy diet and exercise regularly.
Unfortunately, excess weight can exacerbate hormonal imbalance and other associated symptoms.
PCOS and your fertility
One of the most common — and most distressing — effects of PCOS is its impact on fertility. In fact, up to 80% of women with PCOS experience infertility. That’s because PCOS interferes with your body’s ability to ovulate. And if you don’t ovulate, you can’t get pregnant naturally.
The hormonal imbalances associated with PCOS can also make it harder to maintain a pregnancy, increasing your risk of miscarriage.
Despite all of this, PCOS-related infertility is treatable. A combination of lifestyle changes, medication, and assisted reproductive technologies (ARTs) can help you achieve a successful pregnancy.
PCOS and your appearance
PCOS is linked to weight gain, which impacts not only your health but your appearance. And the hormonal imbalances that come with PCOS can affect your appearance in a number of other ways.
Excessive androgens can cause hirsutism or unwanted hair growth on your face, chest, and back. On the other hand, PCOS can also cause hair thinning or male-pattern baldness on your scalp.
Hormonal imbalance can also contribute to skin changes. You might notice that your skin is oily and acne-prone, or that you develop darker, thicker patches of skin under your arms, breasts, or on the back of your neck.
It’s no secret that PCOS can be a distressing and challenging condition to navigate. The good news is that PCOS is manageable, and you don’t have to do it alone.
Dr. Marc Wilson and our team offer compassionate PCOS care, and we’re here to help you achieve your best possible health. We develop a treatment plan to manage your physical symptoms and your emotional well-being.
Depending on your needs and goals, we may recommend a combination of lifestyle modifications and medical intervention.
Medication like hormonal birth control can help regulate your menstrual cycle and balance your hormones. If you’re trying to get pregnant, fertility treatments encourage ovulation and conception.
A PCOS diagnosis doesn’t have to control your health — or your life. Find personalized treatment and compassionate care at Women’s Health Specialists in Denton, Texas. Call our office at 940-202-0301 or send us a message online to learn more.