Before we delve into why PCOS is perceived as the lazy, fat girl problem, let us understand what PCOS is.
What is PCOS?
Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is when the ovaries produce an abnormal amount of androgens, male sex hormones usually present in small amounts in women.
Polycystic ovary syndrome describes the numerous small cysts (fluid-filled sacs) in the ovaries (here).
Whom does it affect?
The leading cause of PCOS is yet to be discovered, but it affects many women with insulin resistance.
Due to the insulin build in the body, androgen levels may rise. Moreover, obesity is another reason which can worsen PCOS symptoms.
What are the symptoms? (Here)
- Missed periods, irregular periods, or very light periods
- Ovaries that are large or have many cysts
- Excess body hair, including the chest, stomach, and back (hirsutism)
- Weight gain, especially around the belly (abdomen)
- Acne or oily skin
- Male-pattern baldness or thinning hair
- Small pieces of excess skin on the neck or armpits (skin tags)
- Dark or thick skin patches on the back of the neck, in the armpits, and under the breasts
How can it be diagnosed?
One needs to go to a medical practitioner to diagnose this problem. The health care provider will use blood tests or ultrasounds to analyze if you are affected by PCOS.
Can PCOS be treated?
There is no treatment for PCOS, but symptoms can be managed by making life changes.
- Change in diet and exercise
- Medications to either cause ovulation or birth control pills. But birth control pills only hide the symptoms of PCOS, and once you stop taking them, all the symptoms will return. Most gynecologists prescribe this method because of the fast results, but in the long run, the actual underlying problems remain.
Is PCOS the ‘fat girl problem’?
A myth says PCOS occurs because a person is fat and lazy. But this is just a myth because it is a genetic disorder. Individuals suffering from PCOS
Let’s bust some PCOS myths to know how wrongly this disorder has been labeled.
1. The individual did something to cause it
No one knows the exact cause of PCOS. What is known is that it includes genetics which is out of an individual’s control. The follicles grow, but the eggs are not released. Due to this, the hairs turn into cysts and fail to make the progesterone hormone.
Many women with PCOS also have insulin resistance which may be a reason for weight gain in women suffering from PCOS.
2. Lose weight and lose PCOS
Many individuals tell women to lose weight, and they will lose their problem. Sadly, this is not true. Weight loss and PCOS are not the same. Obese or overweight women can only manage their symptoms by losing weight.
This, too, will only be possible by making lifestyle changes that may not be possible for all individuals. If one exercises and focuses on the different food items, they can manage the insulin usage in the body, which will help to manage the symptoms.
3. Only overweight women suffer from PCOS
Just as the previous point, this is more or less the same assumption. One needs to understand that there is no relation between weight and PCOS, and they are only related to the body’s incapability to use insulin properly.
PCOS is not a rare condition, and one in every ten women is diagnosed with it in their lifetime. Around 4%- 20% of women of reproductive age worldwide are affected by it. Sometimes it becomes prevalent as early as one starts menstruation, but on the other hand, it may remain dormant until you are 30.
Women tend to feel tired quickly due to the hormonal imbalance and the build-up of insulin. Cravings are common too. Thus, labeling PCOS as a lazy fat girl problem is not the right track. Every individual needs to be aware of the condition to be more sensitive towards a person suffering from it.
Not knowing and mislabelling a person can lead to severe mental health issues. A person may not be physically able to perform the tasks or the exercises that others without PCOS can do, and belittling them for it can cause trauma and sometimes body dysmorphia.
Women may have dissatisfaction with their body image and their appearance; they may feel a loss of femininity and feel less sexually attractive. One of the main reasons for this can be the advertisements that show women with a particular body type.
Even though this is changing in recent times, it is a slow process, and women all over the world feel like they are not good enough because they do not fit the ideal body type. This may cause a prevalence of depression and anxiety. Thus is it essential to be aware of the condition and be mindful of what you are speaking about so that no triggers are activated for the ones around you?
Image credits: Cherokee Women's Health Specialists website
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