In my last blog (PCOS awareness Part 1), I explained what Polycystic ovaries means (PCOS), symptoms that might be experienced and potential herbal supplements that could aid symptoms. I wanted to create a part 2 to dispel some misconceptions and give a little advice on talking to others and how to potentially relieve some stress with a few herbal remedies.
Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a complex medical condition, and misconceptions about it can lead to misunderstandings and inappropriate beliefs.
Here are 9 common misconceptions about PCOS:
1. PCOS is only about ovarian cysts:
While the name implies the presence of cysts on the ovaries, PCOS is a hormonal disorder characterised by a range of symptoms and irregularities beyond just ovarian cysts. Not all women with PCOS will have cysts on their ovaries. The diagnosis is based on a combination of symptoms, hormonal imbalances, and other criteria.
2. PCOS is only a fertility issue, and you cannot get pregnant:
PCOS can affect fertility due to irregular ovulation, but it is a multisystem disorder that can impact various aspects of a person's health, including metabolism, cardiovascular health, and mental well-being. While PCOS can make it difficult to conceive due to irregular ovulation, it is still possible for many to fall pregnant, however the pregnancy will often be high risk.
3. All women with PCOS are overweight/ obese or unhealthy:
While weight gain is common in individuals with PCOS and can exacerbate symptoms, not every woman with PCOS is overweight or obese. Thinner individuals can also have PCOS, everyone is built differently. It is also worth noting that although weight management can help PCOS symptoms, it is hard to lose weight with the PCOS condition, which may lead to stress and mental health issues. It is a common misconception that those with PCOS are unhealthy, many women keep a healthy lifestyle or fitness regime, but unfortunately due to the nature of this syndrome, a woman's appearance can lead to deception from others of their overall health.
4. PCOS only affects women of reproductive age:
While PCOS typically manifests in women of reproductive age, symptoms and complications can persist into and beyond menopause.
5. PCOS is only about cosmetic issues like excess hair and acne:
PCOS involves hormonal imbalances that can lead to a range of health issues, including insulin resistance, diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol. It's not solely about cosmetic concerns.
6. Birth control pills cure PCOS:
Birth control pills can help manage some symptoms of PCOS, but they do not cure the condition. They provide symptom relief and regularise menstrual cycles, but they don't address the underlying hormonal and metabolic imbalances. They do not always help the individual.
7. PCOS is a rare condition:
PCOS is one of the most common endocrine disorders in reproductive-aged women, affecting a significant portion of the population. However, due to lack of awareness, many cases go undiagnosed or misdiagnosed.
8. PCOS is the same for everyone:
PCOS can manifest differently in different individuals. The symptoms, severity, and combination of features can vary widely from person to person.
9. PCOS can be cured:
Unfortunately, polycystic ovary syndrome cannot be cured, but the symptoms can be managed. It is worth seeking professional advice on how to manage PCOS.
How can you help family and friends understand what someone with PCOS is going through and not just think it is about infertility and missing periods?
Helping family and friends understand the full spectrum of what someone with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) experiences beyond just infertility and irregular periods is crucial for providing effective support and for them to understand the misconceptions. Emphasise the hormonal and metabolic imbalances that underlie PCOS, which can affect weight, insulin sensitivity, cardiovascular health, mental well-being.
Discuss how PCOS can impact mental health, including anxiety, depression, body image issues, and self-esteem. Help them understand that it's not just a physical condition but also an emotional challenge. Compare PCOS to a well-known condition or situation (e.g., diabetes or hormonal imbalances during puberty) to help them grasp the concept better. Correct any misconceptions they may have about PCOS, such as the belief that it only affects fertility.
Clarify that it's a complex syndrome with a wide range of symptoms and impacts. Invite questions and create a safe space for open dialogue. Provide stories of individuals who have successfully managed PCOS, highlighting their diverse experiences and the strategies they used for a better quality of life
Encourage empathy and understanding by asking them to put themselves in your shoes and imagine dealing with the challenges of PCOS. Highlight the importance of emotional support and how their understanding can positively impact your well-being.
By using a combination of education, personal communication, and empathy, you can help your family and friends develop a more comprehensive and empathetic understanding of PCOS beyond the surface-level aspects like infertility and irregular periods.
Here are some recommendations of supplements to help with your metal well-being if everything becomes a little overwhelming plus some calming teas to comfort you and your loved ones when you have important conversations
HappyT may help promote a positive outlook, a good frame of mind and puts everyone in a good mood.
Tian Wang Bu Xin Dan may assist with calming your mind and body and potentially aids in concentration and may promote a restful sleep so you can stay relaxed.
Te Xiao An Mian Pian is a formula which targets mood improvement, irritability, rest and internal harmony. It may assist with calming your mind and promoting a more positive mood/outlook plus a restful sleep which might just resolve any worries or bad dreams you might be having.
Make sure you educate yourself and set yourself realistic goals, boundaries and expectations to manage your symptoms. Set some time for you, to manage stress, mental health and a balanced lifestyle. Remember, chat with family and friends to have more understanding and support around you. Seeking help and making small, positive changes can contribute to a better quality of life while managing PCOS. You don't have to navigate this journey alone, it's okay to ask for help.