Today is World PCOS Day and it heralds the start of #PCOSawareness month.

Most people will know what ‘The World’ looks like from outer space – it’s beautiful!

However, I suspect that not too many people will know what PCOS stands for.

Maybe even fewer people will know the signs & symptoms for PCOS and the impact it has on the women living with the condition, their friends and family.

So let me start at the beginning for you: PCOS is the abbreviation for Polycystic Ovary Syndrome.

It was first described by two American gynecologists in 1935, with the syndrome taking its original name from their surnames: Stein-Leventhal Syndrome.  Over the years it has been referred to by numerous names including Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome and Polycystic Ovary Disease.

It is estimated that in the UK #1in10 women and AFAB (Assigned Female At Birth) individuals will have PCOS, and a large proportion of these women will be undiagnosed.  The reasons for this lack of diagnosis are varied – I will cover these specifically as the #PCOSawareness month of blog articles continues. There is currently no cure, and while it can lead to long-term health implications (see Day 11 blog), there are many ways of improving symptoms and quality of life.

There are three main diagnostic criteria used, the most common (and the one used in the UK) is the Rotterdam Criteria.  More of the details around diagnosis will be covered in my blog article on Day 3 (Thur 3rd Sept 2020).

There are many signs and symptoms experienced by women living with PCOS.  Each woman will present with her own mix of issues, and the severity of each symptom will vary from woman to woman (see Day 6 blog for more details on symptoms).

Treatment guidelines for this long-term condition recommend looking at lifestyle issues (diet and activity levels) and ways to improve

Further adding to this complex situation is the fact that each woman will be impacted differently by every one of her symptoms, both psychologically and socially.  For example, a woman who does not want children will be less affected by her fertility problems compared to a woman who desires a large family.

The culture and societal norms surrounding each woman will usually play a large part towards how a woman views her PCOS and how she feels about herself.  Some cultures embrace women who are more curvy, while others tend to favour slim and lean women more.  Some societies are more accepting of women displaying facial and body hair, others promote the hair-free female body as being the ideal and most desirable.

There are ethnic variances for PCOS, as there are with many diseases, with higher prevalence rates seen in Asian women for example.  Some specific symptoms and related health conditions also have an ethnic influence.

Genetics and family history can also play a large part in PCOS, with it often (though not always) running down through families, arguably even through the male line.

So there you have it – a very quick overview of PCOS.  Over the next 30 days I will be writing daily blog articles on a wide range of issues connected with PCOS.  In the meantime, you can find further details on the Verity website (UK charity for PCOS) and also the NHS website.

Catch you tomorrow!

Sharon 🙂