Many women and young girls suffer from polycystic ovary syndrome, popularly known as 'PCOS.' But sadly, only a handful of people know little about it. It is thus important to shed light on this topic, about what PCOS is and the panorama around it.

The PCOS awareness month is an absolute necessity, and one monthly campaign is not enough to amplify what most women go through every day. It is crucial to educate people and allow those who are sometimes forgotten to be seen or heard.

' In the same way that there is a need for more research and training regarding many diseases that primarily affect women, this highly complex issue requires increased awareness, further discussion, and more research.'

The purpose of this article is to showcase the gravity of the syndrome by raising awareness, talking about increased research, and discussing the impact on women's health.

Suggested read: Should you offer Menstrual Leave to the Female Workforce?

When is PCOS awareness month?

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September 1st marks the start of the PCOS (Polycystic ovary syndrome) awareness month, and since 2020, it also marks the beginning of the world's PCOS day of unity.

The aim of PCOS awareness month is to help improve the lives of those affected by PCOS and help them overcome their symptoms and reduce their risk of life-threatening related conditions.

It is also a step to shed light on the topic and the masses' ignorance towards its severity. The awareness month could be considered a preventive step towards the lack of proper medical research and facilities.

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It helps people understand that symptoms like irregular periods and pelvic pain are not something to be ignored but need to be checked. The more people are aware of the syndrome, the better the chances of people getting diagnosed early.

It tries to break the common taboos and myths about it and aims to increase the diagnosis rate of women and girls. The medical system isn't up to date about proper treatment and diagnosis for the various types of PCOS. Even at work or at home, it is not even treated as a good ailment.

It is often treated under an ob/GYN; however, in reality, it should be treated with support and care from close ones as PCOS is not a disease but a syndrome, and can be cured or even managed if given the appropriate consideration.

"PCOS affects over 7 million people. That's more than the number of people diagnosed with breast cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, and lupus combined." -Louise Chang, MD

What color ribbon is for PCOS?

PCOS or Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome Awareness month uses the teal color ribbon.
The teal ribbon represents the challenge of breaking the silence about various symptoms associated with infertility and depression.

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image courtesy-redbubble.com

"Like the man of steel, the man of teal aims to save those in distress and denial of it."

What is PCOS?

PCOS is a genetic, hormonal, metabolic, and reproductive disorder that affects women and girls, causing enlarged ovaries with small cysts on the outer edges. PCOS is caused due to unusual level of androgens produced by the ovaries, which further increases testosterone levels.

It affects the menstrual cycle, healthy egg development, and fertility rate.

The cause for PCOS still hasn't been clear yet, but it is believed that if a mother or sister has it or is resistant to insulin, they might end up with PCOS.

About 5-15% of women between the ages of 15 and 44 have PCOS, yet there's a lot of confusion about what it is

PCOS-awareness-month

I'm not ovaryacting. I have PCOS.

Types of PCOS

PCOS is a condition that hits over 10 million women worldwide. The main characteristics of PCOS of all kinds are higher androgen levels or irregular menstrual cycles. But still, there are other factors that are contributions to PCOS too.

1. Insulin Resistance PCOS

It is driven by insulin resistance and has a metabolic root cause. A high level of androgen usually characterizes it.

2. Post Hormonal Birth Control PCOS

It is usually temporary and is caused by the consumption of hormonal birth control pills.

3. Inflammatory PCOS

It is driven by a high level of chronic inflammation in the body, leading to ovaries producing increased levels of testosterone.

4. Adrenal PCOS

It is usually caused due to a higher level of androgen.

The frustration surrounding Pcos lies in the fact that it is a syndrome and not a disease.

What are the symptoms of PCOS?

PCOS is often considered a constellation of symptoms. The symptoms can become apparent in women's late teens or early 20s. These symptoms can vary from one person to another as PCOS is different in everyone.

Some may face irregular periods while others may have a regular menstrual cycle yet face difficulties with pregnancies and fertility issues.

Both, however, require medical attention to prevent the severity of the condition.

People with PCOS are at a higher risk of experiencing binge eating than people without PCOS.

PCOS manifests a variety of physical and mental symptoms. The following are a few of the more commonly occurring symptoms -

PCOS-Symptoms

September 1st marks PCOS awareness day. This year also marks the start of the 'World PCOS Day of Unity' event, organized by the PCOS Challenge: The National Polycystic Ovary Syndrome Association.

10 interesting facts about PCOS

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PCOS looks different on different people. Here are some fascinating facts about PCOS-

  • Despite being one of the most common endocrine disorders, PCOS receives less than 1% of funding from the National Institutes of Health.

  • By age 40, 40% of women with PCOS will develop pre-diabetes or diabetes.

  • Despite its name, not all women with PCOS have cysts on their ovaries.

  • Women with PCOS have higher rates of anxiety and depression than women without the syndrome.

  • One of the earliest signs of elevated androgens in adolescents with PCOS is acne.

  • Regular exercise is an effective way to improve insulin levels in PCOS.

  • Sleep disturbances are twice as common in women with PCOS compared with those without.

  • As women with PCOS get older, they are likely to experience more regular menstrual cycles.

  • Women with PCOS have more testosterone and can build muscle easier than women without the syndrome.

  • Women with PCOS can have monthly menstrual cycles and still have PCOS.

Common myths about PCOS

Since many even doctors do not understand PCOS, they often tend to misunderstand the condition and prevent proper diagnosis. Hence, there's a myriad of myths about PCOS.

Let's dispel some of the most common myths-

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You can naturally manage your PCOS by walking, weight training, and eating greens.

Is it possible to cure PCOS?

PCOS is not a disease, but it is a syndrome that is chronic. But you can manage, prevent and reduce with proper diagnosis or even naturally in case of mild cases.

Ayurvedic treatment or regular exercise like walking, meditating, weight training has been found out to be effective for most cases. Also, with the right dietary plan, you can control the insulin level, which causes hormonal imbalance.

Dairy is inflammatory for most women with PCOS and makes the symptoms worse. Swap for soy milk or coconut milk, or even almond milk for a less painful cycle.

There are medical treatments for PCOS, which have effectively regulated symptoms like acne, cramps, hair growth, and mood swings.

  • Birth control pills
  • Metformin
  • Clomiphene
  • Hair removal medications
  • Surgery (for severe cases)

Suggested read:Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS): Symptoms, Causes, and Treatment

PCOS and Work : Can it be affected?

As a woman's work and jobs make up a large amount of her life, it is only natural to assume that these will also affect her work-life balance. PCOS and its overwhelming symptoms can affect employees' lives.

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It can make the employer's work-life quite unpleasant.It can also make it difficult to manage her job and the workload pressure,along with the physical and hormonal imbalances further leading to severe mood swings.

Even though we talked about the importance of showing up your best at work, it might not be the best in the case of women suffering from PCOS. It is impossible to give your best at work with the roller-coaster mood swings and the intolerable cramps.

Again, with PCOS symptoms like unwanted hair growth or weight gain, employees can suffer from low self-esteem, further deteriorating their mental health.

Suggested read: Managing Periods in the Workplace

How to celebrate PCOS awareness at work

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As an employer, you might be unaware of what exactly PCOS is or how to deal with those working under you suffering from it.

It is plausible that you could have never even heard of the term PCOS or even turned a blind eye towards women at your workplace or colleague going through. Because they are lauded for how they cover up their struggles and push through despite the pain.

To be empathetic first, you need to educate yourself; only then can you provide the necessary assistance and support to your employees.

PCOS awareness month can be celebrated at the workplace to raise awareness among the employees. Even if you feel like it's not your place to interfere with your employees' health or private life, but you can still provide them with some aid and support with the following steps-

  • Providing comprehensive health insurance.

  • Flexible working arrangements

  • A compassionate work culture built on empathy

  • Introducing menstrual leave policy

Suggested read: 9 Best Ways To Support Women's Health At Work

How to lose weight with PCOS

The symptoms of PCOS are typically associated with weight gain. However, that's not entirely true for most women. Throughout history, it has been proven to be a myth again and again.

Even so, there are many girls/women with weight gain symptoms, which have contributed to their high degree of insecurity.

Suggested read: Top 9 Healthy Foods To Eat Everyday

Tips on losing weight with PCOS

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Over 60% of women with PCOS have mental health conditions like anxiety, depression, or eating disorders.

What to include in your PCOS diet plan?

The diet plan for PCOS can include magnesium-rich foods to improve insulin resistance in your body. It can consist of food like-

PCOS-diet-plan

For a specific diet, a nutritionist should be consulted. The above dietary plan iis a generic diet suggestion.

Summing it up.

In the end, you can say that raising awareness about PCOS is essential. Even among medical professionals, the lack of knowledge and information about it causes more confusion than treatment. People often forget the thin line between a syndrome and a disease, so PCOS awareness month could be a good way to draw the line.

Though some may know some symptoms, no one seems to have the solution to it. That's because PCOS is still a topic you don't know much about as much as you would like to. Communication and knowing your limits can be the key to overcoming PCOS.

I hope this article was insightful and helped you understand more about the polycystic ovarian syndrome. Do drop your suggestions or experiences in the comment section below.

This article is written by Neha Yasmin who is a content marketer at Vantage Circle. A selenophile with a penchant for discovering great meals and drinks. Is a self-proclaimed binge racer with a knack for cooking in her spare time. For queries, reach out to editor@vantagecircle.com