Debunking 10 myths about PCOS

If you’ve ever heard someone claim that having polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is simply a result of poor lifestyle choices, you’re not alone.

For years, misconceptions surrounding this complex hormonal condition have plagued the minds of those affected by it and the general public alike. 

So, why do we need to debunk these myths about this condition? The answer is simple. Misinformation prevails when people are not aware of the truth.

By dispelling the myths and providing accurate information, women with PCOS can get the necessary diagnosis and support.

It’s time to end the myths and embrace the reality of this misunderstood and misdiagnosed condition. 

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1. It’s a rare condition

You might think PCOS is a rare and obscure disorder, but it’s far more prevalent than expected.

Polycystic ovary syndrome affects 5 to 10% of women, making it one of this demographic’s most common hormone imbalances. To put that into perspective, that’s 1 in every ten women [1].

Despite this ratio, many people believe PCOS is a rare condition. This is because there’s a severe lack of awareness and education surrounding this condition.

Many people, including some healthcare professionals, don’t fully understand the condition and therefore don’t recognize its symptoms.

This leads to misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis, which can be incredibly frustrating for women. 

You can't get pregnant if you have PCOS
Photograph: RossHelen/Envato

2. You can’t get pregnant if you have PCOS

One of the most distressing myths about this condition is that it makes pregnancy impossible. Some women with this disorder may have irregular periods or no periods, making it more difficult to conceive. 

While it’s true that PCOS can lead to irregular menstrual cycles and ovulation issues, it doesn’t mean that pregnancy is unattainable [2].

However, with the help of fertility treatments like ovulation induction, intrauterine insemination (IUI), or in vitro fertilization (IVF), women can improve their chances of getting pregnant. 

Many women with this condition have successfully conceived and carried pregnancies to term. The key is managing hormone imbalances and working closely with a healthcare provider to optimize fertility.

It’s important to note that fertility treatment options may vary depending on individual cases and medical history. It’s always best to consult with a medical professional and work with them to develop a personalized treatment plan.

Don’t let the infertility myth discourage you if you have PCOS and want to conceive. With the proper support, it’s possible to start a family.

3. Weight loss will cure PCOS

Losing weight is often prescribed as a remedy for polycystic ovary syndrome. While it’s true that losing weight can improve symptoms for some, we have to remember that this condition is a hormonal imbalance, not a weight problem [3].

Many women with PCOS maintain a healthy weight or may even be underweight. Focusing solely on weight loss may not address the root cause of the problem, so it’s crucial to work with your doctor to create a treatment plan tailored to your needs.

4. It only affects overweight women

The idea that PCOS is exclusive to overweight women is another common myth. While obesity can worsen the symptoms and increase the risk of developing the condition, we must understand that PCOS affects women of all shapes and sizes [4]. 

This misconception exists because there could be a bias in diagnosis. Doctors often associate PCOS with obesity and may not consider thin patients for PCOS screening.

This can lead to the underdiagnosis of the condition in normal-weight women. Studies show that genetics play a significant role in PCOS, and hormonal imbalances are at the root of the disorder.

So, while weight management is crucial in managing symptoms, it’s essential to understand that PCOS is a complex condition that can affect all women.

It’s important not to make assumptions based solely on weight.

5. PCOS only affects reproductive health

It’s a common misconception that PCOS only affects reproductive health, but this condition has far-reaching effects on overall health. Hormonal imbalances caused by PCOS adversely affect weight, insulin resistance, and mental health

Studies have shown that women with PCOS are at a higher risk for developing diabetes, high blood pressure, and sleep apnea [5]. And because PCOS is a chronic condition, these risks can persist over time. 

In addition to the physical health impacts, the emotional toll of PCOS cannot be ignored. Women with the condition often experience anxiety, depression, and body image issues, which can further impact their quality of life.

PCOS is a complex condition that affects many aspects of a woman’s life.

6. The disorder can be cured

Unfortunately, PCOS is a chronic condition, meaning that although the symptoms are manageable, there is no cure [6]. 

The good news is that managing symptoms is the best approach for this disorder. This includes making lifestyle changes like eating a balanced diet and exercising regularly.

It also involves medication to regulate menstrual cycles and lower androgen levels. Working with a healthcare professional is vital to finding the right combination of treatments for every woman affected.

So, while it may be disappointing to know that PCOS can’t be cured, it’s essential to focus on what women can do to manage the symptoms. Women can lead happy, healthy lives by taking a proactive approach and working with their doctors.

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7. PCOS only affects women of reproductive age

This myth is far from the truth, as studies have shown that PCOS can affect women during their teenage years and in menopause.

During adolescence, this condition can present as irregular periods, acne, weight problems, and unwanted hair growth [7].

However, since these symptoms are often common during puberty, this disorder often goes undiagnosed during these years. This can lead to years of hormonal imbalance and potential health risks.

Similarly, menopause can also trigger PCOS symptoms as the body undergoes significant hormonal changes.

Women in menopause can experience irregular periods, weight gain, and other symptoms commonly associated with the condition.

Research has proven that PCOS is not just limited to women of reproductive age, and it’s time to debunk this myth. Women of all ages can be affected by PCOS, and it’s essential to be aware of the symptoms and seek proper diagnosis and treatment.

8. Poor lifestyle choices cause PCOS

Poor lifestyle choices do not solely cause the condition. Some lifestyle factors may worsen symptoms but don’t cause the actual condition.

Multiple elements contribute to the development of polycystic ovary syndrome, including genetics and environmental factors [8]. 

9. Birth control is the only treatment option for PCOS

PCOS treatments involve managing symptoms rather than curing the condition. Your doctor may prescribe birth control pills to regulate menstrual cycles and control androgen levels.

Additionally, combined birth control helps reduce acne caused by increased androgen levels. But that’s not the end of treatment options.

Metformin, a medication for managing diabetes, helps regulate insulin and androgen levels. Anti-androgen medications help in minimizing acne and excessive hair growth [9].

Inositol, a combination of eight different types of vitamin B, helps regulate insulin levels. Lifestyle changes such as a healthy diet, reducing stress, and regular exercise significantly improve PCOS symptoms. 

Birth control pills are not necessarily the only go-to solution, especially for women who cannot or choose not to take them.

Regulating hormones and reducing androgen levels are essential for managing symptoms, and there are several ways to achieve them.

PCOS is not a serious condition
Photograph: nd3000/Envato

10. PCOS is not a serious condition

This condition may seem trivial, but it can severely affect a woman’s physical, mental, and emotional health.

Women are at higher risk for developing Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, and difficulty managing weight due to hormonal imbalances. 

And it’s not just about physical symptoms; the psychological impact can be overwhelming. Many women with this condition also struggle with body image, anxiety, and depression.

It can be a never-ending cycle of feeling self-conscious about weight gain, dealing with hormonal mood swings, and trying to navigate life while dealing with these invisible symptoms. 

Closing thoughts

The misconceptions surrounding polycystic ovary syndrome can be disheartening and sometimes overwhelming.

By debunking these ten common myths, we hope to empower you with accurate information and a better understanding of this complex hormonal condition. Remember that this condition affects women of all ages differently.

The best way to manage it is by working closely with a doctor who can help create a personalized treatment plan tailored to your unique needs.

Don’t let myths and misconceptions keep you from living your best life with PCOS!

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Photograph: AtlasComposer/Envato
The information included in this article is for informational purposes only. The purpose of this webpage is to promote broad consumer understanding and knowledge of various health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health care provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment and before undertaking a new health care regimen, and never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.