Updated: Apr 23
I recently shared this post to my Instagram account @pcos_to_wellness and the reaction was HUGE. So I wanted to dive in a little deeper in this blog post.
1. An estimated 1 in 10 women have PCOS (but it is probably much higher than this!)
These numbers make PCOS one of the most common hormonal endocrine disorders among women of reproductive age. Women often find out they have the condition during their 20s and 30s when they experience trouble conceiving.
The condition doesn’t discriminate, and women of all backgrounds, races, and ethnicities are at risk of PCOS. Though it is thought to have some genetic links and the chances of having PCOS may be higher if you have a relative, mother, sister or aunt with the condition.
Chances of PCOS are also higher if you are overweight, but again, PCOS doesn’t discriminate and affects women of all shapes and sizes.
2. Women with PCOS have higher rates of anxiety and depression
Though the reasons for the increased risk are not fully understood and there are likely multiple and interconnected pathways leading to these increased numbers. A recent study in the Journal of Neuropsychiatric Disease and Treatment concluded that women with PCOS were nearly three times more likely to experience anxiety symptoms compared to those without PCOS.
3. PCOS is the most common cause of female infertility
Often women find out they have PCOS due to problems getting pregnant. PCOS creates a hormonal imbalance that interferes with the growth and release of eggs from the ovaries. This initiates a domino effect: the absence of ovulation leads to irregularities with the menstrual cycle, which in turn leads to increased difficulty getting pregnant. This doesn’t mean that it’s impossible though and addressing and treating symptoms can help to regulate your hormone levels and facilitate fertility, I am living proof this and fell pregnant naturally myself!
4. Less than 50 percent of women are properly diagnosed, leaving millions of women living with symptoms that go unsupported.
Without a proper diagnosis, it’s difficult to get proper support. PCOS is often characterised by three main symptoms:
Irregular or absent menstrual cycles
Polycystic ovaries (identified by an ultrasound)
Evidence of hyperandrogenism (elevated androgens)
You can find out more about how I manage my PCOS symptoms with herbs here, or read more about Hyperandrogenism here
But, these are not the only symptoms that women can experience. With such a large variation and unique mix of symptoms and experiences, as well as a lack of understanding from doctors and medical professionals, many women go years and years without having a name for their symptoms and consequently, without knowing how to treat their symptoms.
5. Sleep disturbances have been found to be twice as common in women with PCOS compared to those without.
Common sleep disorders experienced by women with PCOS include insomnia, trouble falling asleep and sleep apnea, which is the repeated brief interruptions in breathing while still asleep. Yikes! There are some things you can do to help increase sleep quality, like exercising regularly, eating a healthy diet, and drinking herbal tea before bed to help relax and settle the mind.
6. Elevated insulin resistance is not part of the diagnostic criteria for PCOS but is seen in the majority of women with PCOS.
Insulin is a hormone that controls how your body turns food into energy. Insulin resistance is when the body’s cells do not respond normally to insulin. When left untreated can result in Type 2 diabetes. Many women experience this as part of their PCOS, however, it is not a specific criterion for a PCOS diagnosis.
7. Signs of PCOS may include: hirsutism, hair loss, acne, weight gain, irregular cycles, PMS, hot flashes, anxiety, brain fog, bloating and infertility.
These a few of the symptoms experienced by women with PCOS. Some may experience all of the above, some experience only a few. Just like every woman is unique, every woman experiences their own unique set of symptoms. The wide variety of symptoms can also contribute to the delay in diagnosis that many women experience.
8. Despite its name, not all women with PCOS actually have to have cysts on their ovaries.
Usually, women release eggs every month or so, depending on your individual cycle. However, due to the hormonal imbalance in women with PCOS and irregular or absent ovulation, follicles on the ovaries grow and build up fluid without releasing eggs. This lack of ovulation month after month means that these follicles may eventually turn into cysts.
9. The prevalence of type 2 diabetes in women with PCOS at middle age is 6.8 times higher than that of the general female population.
That’s a staggering number! Type 2 Diabetes is defined by the progressive resistance to the effects of insulin and often leads to a loss in the ability to produce enough insulin. Many women with PCOS experience insulin resistance and they’re at a much larger risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
10.Women with PCOS have a higher incidence of gestational diabetes, miscarriages, preterm deliveries, and stillbirths.
Gestational Diabetes complicates around 40 to 50% of PCOS pregnancies, stemming from increased insulin resistance, while the rate of miscarriage for women with PCOS is ranges from to 40%- 80%.The general reproductive population experiences about an 11% miscarriage rate. There are many reasons this may be the case, but higher androgen levels affect levels of estrogen in the body and have adverse effects on endometrial development and implantation.
11. Women with PCOS may have more difficulty breastfeeding and producing sufficient milk for their babies.
For many women with PCOS breastfeeding can become a daunting task. Often, mothers with PCOS struggle to produce enough milk to feed their growing babies. Some don’t even realise their PCOS is the reason for low milk supply.
This is the exact reason I formulated a tea for breastfeeding mamas, using only natural ingredients and specifically chosen ingredients, you can shop Mamahood tea here.
12. ALL symptoms of PCOS are treatable and can be managed naturally with the right approach.
Now read that again. I wholeheartedly believe that whether a woman decides to go down the medical intervention route or not, every one of us should be striving for optimal health and hormone balance. Whether that be through diet and lifestyle changes, herbs and supplements and stress management.
After all, being the healthiest version of yourself can’t do any harm!