PCOS Facts and Myths: The Impact on your Fertility & Long Term Health

Myths and Facts

Myth: Try to conceive (TTC) for one year before seeking medical advice.

Fact: While the definition of infertility is an inability to conceive after trying for one year if you are under 35 or for six months if you are over 35, this assumes a typical 12 exposed menstrual cycles in a given year. Those with PCOS, however, have irregular cycles, perhaps having only 12 cycles over a period of five years. Thus, if you fall in this latter category, seek medical advice sooner rather than later.

Myth: You are not ovulating.

Fact: Patients with PCOS do ovulate, but the challenge is that one is unclear when ovulation occurs. That is why some women unexpectedly become pregnant.

Myth: You are told you are fine and simply missed your period.

Fact: While 80% of those with irregular cycles have PCOS, the remainder don’t. PCOS requires evaluation by lab testing, a part of which includes ovarian failure test (FSH — follicle stimulating hormone), to be diagnosed. Unfortunately, when a misdiagnosis of some kind or more specifically, an improper diagnosis of simply missing periods is made, incorrect medications, like birth control, are provided. “This potentially masks other problems. Worse yet, such patients are not properly counseled,” states Dr. Cedars. Severe depression is a common PCOS symptom.

Myth: You can’t get pregnant.

Fact: Women with PCOS can get pregnant. However, those with PCOS often think that if their period is “regular,” they are not ovulating, so they don’t use contraception. However, they can also be the ones to get pregnant unexpectedly, as stated above.

Myth: In order to have PCOS, you must be obese.

Fact: Obesity is not necessarily a component of PCOS. In Europe, PCOS patients’ BMI is in the low 20’s. However, in the US it is 35. Remember, the foundation of PCOS is insulin resistance. Because of this, if you eat an unhealthy diet, you will gain weight. Unfortunately, the US diet is filled with heavy carbohydrates and processed foods, which tends to lead to obesity.

Myth: Ovaries have abnormal cysts that could be dangerous and cause complications.

Fact: “These are not classic cysts (i.e., abnormal fluid collection). However, women do have an increased number of small immature follicles (fluid filled sacs that contain an egg). This situation is not dangerous, yet the word “cyst” in the name creates confusion,” says Dr. Cedars. According to PCOS Challenge, the cysts are caused by follicles (fluid-filled sacs that contain an egg) that have matured in the ovary, but because of the abnormal hormone levels, were never released. In PCOS, one or both of the ovaries can also become enlarged, sometimes up to 1.5–3 times their normal size.

  • Irregular periods
  • Excessive facial and body hair
  • Severe acne
  • Small cysts in ovaries
  • Insulin resistance
  • Anxiety and depression
  • Infertility
  • Weight gain
  • Male pattern baldness

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Fempower Health

Fempower Health

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Podcast host and advocate on a mission to transform women’s health.