PCOS: With no known cure, these women tell how they manage their symptoms

PCOS: With no known cure, these women tell how they manage their symptoms

Monday, September 28, 2020

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September is globally observed as Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) Awareness Month. In this, the second of a two-part series, we share the stories of some of our sisters, details of the condition, and available treatment options.

THERE is no known cure for PCOS, and the treatment options that are available for each woman will depend on her symptoms. Consultant obstetrician/gynaecologist Dr Jordan Hardie says treatment is usually geared towards weight management, regularising the menstrual cycle and flow, and reducing the appearance of acne and male-pattern hair growth .

“The first step in the treatment of patients is lifestyle, or modification of diet and exercise,” he says. “This is directed at achieving weight loss. Patients who respond to lifestyle modification may not need any other form of intervention.”

He adds: “Women who have menstrual irregularities and associated infertility may be started on Metformin, a medication that increases insulin sensitivity and can lead to regular ovulatory cycles. Women who have irregular cycles or heavy periods, but do not desire fertility at this time, may be offered the oral contraceptive pill in addition to the Metformin.”

Oral contraceptive pills with an anti-androgenic component, he says, can help manage other symptoms of PCOS such as acne and male-pattern hair growth, but patients may need to see a dermatologist for additional treatment and monitoring.

“Any woman who thinks she may have PCOS should see her gynaecologist, who will do a full consultation to assess her symptoms clinically,” Dr Hardie recommends.

These PCOS 'cysters' share their symptoms with All Woman, and tell us how they have been managing them since their diagnosis.

Annecia Barrett, 26, teacher:

I didn't really know what it was until I was much older, but ever since I hit puberty I started to develop coarse chest hair and facial hair on the side of my face and under my chin. I would have extremely painful periods and pain on either side of my abdomen during ovulation. I thought that it was normal so I treated the pain with multiple doses of painkillers. During university I started to research the symptoms of PCOS and I matched the profile. I then went to confirm with my doctor. He said the bad pain during ovulation was caused by temporary cysts that form on my ovaries and that they may cause infertility. I am currently on the pill to help normalise my cycle, and I try to watch what I eat and exercise to manage my weight.

Tiffany Bedward, 24, unemployed:

I found out that I suffered from PCOS at 20, after a very bad experience in a clinic that I went to, based on my symptoms. Even though the ultrasound showed that both my ovaries were swollen with multiple cysts, with suspected endometrial polyps, the doctor maintained that I did not have PCOS, and said I should come back when I was ready to have a baby. So I did my own research, and now I manage my symptoms with natural remedies and other medications. I am currently taking folic acid and prenatals to improve my chances of fertility. I also drink the dog blood bush and other bush remedies to help with the symptoms.

Sabriena Simpson, 28, communications officer:

The symptoms I experience with PCOS are irregular periods, bleeding between periods, excessive weight gain, hirsutism (male distribution of hair), and insulin resistance (which makes me prone to diabetes, anxiety and mood swings). After a pelvic ultrasound exam revealed that my ovaries are polycystic, my gynaecologist prescribed a contraceptive called Diane 35 to help with the irregular periods and Metformin to control the sugar levels and assist with ovulation. I was also recommended to a nutritionist to assist me with losing weight. I lost 23 pounds and my periods became regular, but the other symptoms persist. It is sometimes worrying to think that I can easily get diabetes and, most of all, experience challenges in having a child.

Sheena Lee, 27, teacher:

I found out I had PCOS when I was pregnant a few years ago. Luckily for me, it doesn't seem to be that severe of a case. I have my regular periods, no weight issues, and no pain. However, recently I have been experiencing a change in the texture of my hair, I have hair on my chin (which I hate), and I now have acne. I've never ever had that so that was a bit hard to adjust to. Birth control helps, so I went and got some from the doctor. I specifically take Lindynette, and I see the difference when I do. I don't take it consistently though, because birth control comes with its own side effects.


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