By Jenny Horn
September is PCOS Awareness Month, and here at the ERA Coalition we know it is vital for anyone with female reproductive organs to be the best advocates for themselves to get the care they deserve. Continue reading to learn more about the syndrome, what it may look like, and why it’s important to raise awareness today.
Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) is a variable disorder that is marked significantly by amenorrhea, hirsutism, obesity, infertility, and ovarian enlargement, and is usually initiated by an elevated level of luteinizing hormone, androgen, or estrogen, which results in an abnormal cycle of gonadotropin release by the pituitary gland – abbreviation PCOS – called also Polycystic Ovary Disease, Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, and Stein-Leventhal Syndrome. Raising awareness about PCOS, its symptoms, and its effects is important in providing both educational and support services to help those individuals affected as well as decrease the impact of the syndrome’s associated health difficulties.
Common symptoms of PCOS as outlined by the Mayo Clinic include the following:
- Irregular Periods: Having few menstrual periods or having periods that aren’t regular are common signs of PCOS. So is having periods that last for many days or longer than is typical for a period. For example, you might have fewer than nine periods a year. And those periods may occur more than 35 days apart. You may have trouble getting pregnant.
- Too Much Androgen: High levels of the hormone androgen may result in excess facial and body hair. This is called hirsutism. Sometimes, severe acne and male-pattern baldness can occur too.
- Polycystic Ovaries: Your ovaries might be bigger. Many follicles containing immature eggs may develop around the edge of the ovary, and the ovaries may not function in the way they should.
Public awareness regarding PCOS is crucial – over half of the 10,000,000 people estimated to be affected by the syndrome are unaware of its existence and effects entirely (PCOS Awareness Association). Awareness helps the public understand that symptoms like the ones listed above, like irregular periods and pelvic pain, are not something to be ignored. Getting checked is necessary, and it is vital to bring these symptoms to your doctor’s attention if applicable. While there is currently no cure for PCOS, there are a plethora of treatments ready to ease the stress and complications associated with its effects. The more people that are informed of PCOS, the better the chances for early diagnosis.