Do you know that September is PCOS awareness month?
Polycystic ovary syndrome, or PCOS for short, affects 10% of women in the UK. It is a disorder that causes painful cysts to grow in the ovaries
The frustrating thing about PCOS is that it can be hard to diagnose because the symptoms can vary so much. As PCOS can affect fertility, many women only find out they have it when they are trying for a baby.
Here are some of the most frequently asked questions about PCOS, and how you can check if your teen (as well as yourself!) is at risk from the condition.
What are the signs of PCOS?
These are some of the most frequently seen symptoms of PCOS. However, bear in mind your teen may not experience all of them.
– Weight gain around the belly
– Heavy, irregular periods (sometimes people with PCOS do not get periods at all), that usually spill into the teenage panties
– Dark, velvety hair growing on the face, back, bottom and chest
– Thickened and darkened skin on the neck, breasts and armpits
– Thinning hair
– Acne and oily skin on the face and body
Can teenagers be diagnosed with PCOS?
Even though it’s a natural part of life, most teens don’t want other people to know about the changes going on in their bodies, and this makes it harder to diagnose than in adults. Also, the body is still developing. For example, one of the symptoms of PCOS is irregular periods, which can be hard to spot in young girls when their periods are less regular.
One thing to consider is that PCOS is genetic. If you or your sister have it, your teen is about 30% more likely to have it.
Can PCOS be cured?
No – unfortunately PCOS cannot be cured. However, the good news is that you can do many things to manage the symptoms.
One of the best things your teen can do to relieve PCOS is eating healthily and exercising regularly. Walking, cycling and swimming are all great for helping to improve PCOS symptoms. Look at some recipe books and find some great healthy recipes you can cook together.
If your teen feels self-conscious about excess body hair, waxing, sugaring or laser treatment can help.
Taking contraceptives can help relieve symptoms too. You may feel a little uneasy about your teen taking the pill or using the patch, but they are scientifically proven methods of making PCOS more manageable.
What should I do if I think my teenager has PCOS?
PCOS can increase the risk of conditions including type 2 diabetes, sleep apnoea and high blood pressure. This means the sooner it is diagnosed, the better.
If your GP thinks your teen has PCOS, they will carry out blood and hormone tests. If PCOS is diagnosed, they will work with you both to determine the best course of treatment.
In the case your teen has PCOS, she may be scared. This is perfectly normal. Several celebrities like Jaime King, Daisy Ridley and Lea Michele have talked about their experiences with PCOS and how they overcame it.
Your teen may be concerned she may not be able to have children in the future, but many people with PCOS have conceived, both with and without treatment.