The Lack of Information That Is Affecting Reproductive Health
With the media’s portrayal of the pre-menstrual woman, it’s no surprise that we laugh off certain symptoms that come up with our periods or brush them off as something that we just have to live with. When it comes to reproductive health, it seems that many health practitioners do the same and for this reason there are millions of women suffering from Poly Cystic Ovarian Syndrome—or PCOS—without even knowing it.
Having some discomfort with your period is fairly normal and by some discomfort I mean mild to moderate cramps, headache, irritability and even a little fatigue. If you find yourself however, suffering from severe cramps or fever or any other unusual symptoms, then you need to speak to your doctor and insist on making sure that things are as they should be since these could be signs of PCOS and even endometriosis which commonly afflicts the women who have PCOS.
Some other signs of PCOS include:
· Hirsutism (excessive facial and body hair)
· Thinning hair (usually in what is called ‘male pattern baldness’)
· Weight gain or Obesity
· Inability to lose weight even through diet and exercise
· Severe cramps
· Heavy periods
· Irregular periods (frequent or infrequent)
· Problems getting pregnant
· Dark patches of skin under the arms or inner thighs
Changes in hormone levels are responsible for the weight, acne and hair related symptoms. It has been noted too that women who suffer from PCOS are often insulin resistant and at high risk for Type 2 Diabetes, heart disease and more than anything; infertility.
Most of these symptoms are often brushed off by doctors who haven’t had experience treating women with PCOS directly. In their defense, many of these symptoms can just be from a ‘bad period’ and since several of the complaints are somewhat cosmetic, such as the weight struggles and excess hair; many doctors will be quick to disregard them because they don’t pose too much of an immediate health risk—though this also helps us to see why obesity is the epidemic that it is! Most often than not, these complaints are only really looked into when a woman is having difficulty conceiving and is referred to a fertility specialist.
The confirmation of PCOS will require blood tests and an ultrasound to confirm the presence of cysts. Some women can have all of the symptoms of PCOS without actually having the ovarian cysts in which case the diagnosis is dependant on history and the results of blood work by an endocrinologist. Once diagnosed, there are medications that might be prescribed to control some of the symptoms and you may even be referred to a nutritionist to help you make food and exercise choices to accommodate your specific needs. Getting PCOS under control is also essential if you’re looking to get pregnant.
If you find that you have any of the mentioned symptoms, then you need to be diligent about getting your doctor to acknowledge and investigate what you’re feeling. This is something that can affect girls as the onset of puberty and onwards, so it’s never too early to take care of your reproductive help, whether you want to have children or not.