MARK YOUR CALENDAR: SEPTEMBER IS PCOS AWARENESS MONTH
Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) is the primary cause of 85% of all diagnosed ovulatory disorders. When a couple has trouble getting pregnant, exploring ovulatory disorders is among the first steps that fertility specialists recommend. While many women have heard about PCOS, some do not fully understand how this disorder causes infertility and other health problems.
WHAT IS PCOS?
PCOS is a complex syndrome that affects natural hormones. Excessive androgens and blood insulin levels produce outward symptoms, such as hirsutism, acne and hyperpigmentation – areas of dark skin around the neck. The hormone imbalance also causes irregular periods, disrupts normal ovulation cycles and weight gain not associated with overeating and a sedentary lifestyle. While excessive body hair is common, some women report scalp hair loss and/or thinning. Pelvic pain is common although pain levels vary from mild to debilitating. Pelvic pain generally radiates from inflammed ovarian cysts, not the condition itself. Most cysts resolve on their own, some large cysts require surgical removal. It is important to understand there is not a surgical remedy for PCOS.
This condition often goes undiagnosed until a girl reaches menarche or a woman during childbearing years has complications getting pregnant. There is some research that suggests there are early indicators a female is predisposed to PCOS during infancy and early childhood. Sadly, many pediatricians miss these early signs because the expressions and reported symptoms change throughout the lifespan.
WHAT IS PCOS AWARENESS MONTH?
As a federally recognized initiative to inform and educate the medical community and the general public, and support robust ongoing research, September PCOS awareness campaigns bring attention to this complex medical condition.
Each year non-profits, such as the PCOS Awareness Association (PCOSAA), and reproductive specialty centers come together to organize public events designed to expand community knowledge and inform physicians about early warning signs and treatment options for girls and women.
During the month-long campaign, the public is invited to participate in charity fund raising events and attend free lectures hosted by hospitals and other medical providers. PCOS Challenge posts videos and podcasts that fertility clinics and individuals are encouraged to share on social media sites. This organization also holds an annual symposium for patients, their family members and healthcare professionals.
RAISING AWARENESS ONE COMMUNITY AT A TIME
The goal of raising awareness is simple: Inform, educate, empower. Knowledge informs better decisions.
When women with PCOS learn that their daughters are more likely to develop PCOS, they often want to participate in awareness campaigns. They speak with their child’s pediatrician, support ongoing research and share the knowledge with friends and associates.
When family physicians learn that living with PCOS may mean living with debilitating pelvic pain and difficulty controlling weight, compassionate doctors recognize the daily challenges women face, and look for solutions to manage pain more effectively.
When the general public learns that researchers have still not identified what causes PCOS, many people are driven to participate in local fundraisers or donate to national organizations that support research efforts. Public education campaigns also empower women with information that may explain irregular periods, fertility problems and excess hair growth.
WHAT CAN YOU DO TO GET INVOLVED?
If you have been diagnosed with PCOS, talk to your doctor about diet and lifestyle changes. Losing weight is hard, but not impossible, and maintaining a healthy weight often reduces symptoms. Your doctor may also prescribe medications to stabilize insulin and androgen levels.
To help raise awareness, consider participating in a charity walk, or organize one of your own. Share evidence-based video clips and articles on your social sites to inform and educate your friends and family. Talk to your healthcare partners.
Many conditions and life circumstances create infertility challenges. Our Viera Fertility Center staff understands the physical and emotion impact PCOS has on a woman. If you believe PCOS may be the source of your infertility, we invite you to call and schedule an appointment today to learn more about achieving a successful pregnancy with assisted reproductive technology.