Thanks to the internet and sites like Wikipedia, it has never been easier to become an expert in any given topic, from rare and extinct diseases to the politics of 17th century France. Every single one of us has a world of knowledge at our fingertips, and that should make ignorance and misinformation a thing of the past.
However, it actually has the opposite effect, because while the truth is out there, it’s surrounded by an ocean of lies, fallacies, and fakery. Nowhere is this more evident than in the medical sector, where the internet assumes the role of an omnipotent, omnipresent meddling aunt, one who claims to know everything but rarely speaks the truth.
These PCOS fertility myths are a prime example of this. All of these are assumed to be true by many people suffering with PCOS, as well as their friends and family, and that can lead to pain and suffering.
What is PCOS?
Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) is one of the most common endocrine disorders found in women, affecting approximately 5-10% of women worldwide, with less than 50% of them diagnosed. The syndrome is present throughout a woman’s life from puberty through post-menopause and affects women of all races and ethnic groups. Women with PCOS wrestle with an array of possible symptoms including obesity, irregular menstrual cycles, infertility, depression, acne, and hair loss. Far reaching health implications such as increased risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes make these already stressful symptoms even more daunting.
Here are 4 common myths about PCOS Infertility:
4. If you Don’t Want to Get Pregnant, PCOS is Not a Problem
Infertility is often associated with PCOS, but it’s not the only serious symptom, so PCOS is something that should still be dealt with even if you don’t want to have children. PCOS is closely linked with diabetes, with more than 50% of women with the disease diagnosed with diabetes or pre-diabetes before the age of 40.
It’s also closely associated with cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, sleep apnea, depression and anxiety. That’s not to say that you will have these issues if you have PCOS, but the odds that your physical or mental health will suffer are increased, so it’s not something you should ignore.
3. Losing Weight with PCOS Won’t Make a Difference
Obesity is one of the biggest causes of infertility in the United States, and it can seriously impact a woman’s chances of getting pregnant, even after fertility treatment. The risk of miscarriage also greatly increases in overweight and obese women.
There are a few myths concerning obesity and PCOS, including the belief that only obese women have the condition. This is simply not true and it’s possible for women of all sizes to have it. It’s true that it can be harder for women with PCOS to lose weight, but contrary to popular belief, it’s not an impossibility and for every pound of fat lost a woman’s chances of getting pregnant, even with PCOS, is greatly increased.
There are PCOS specific diets out there that can help you to lose weight and control insulin resistance. Exercise is also essential, and it’s important to work several different exercises (including weights, resistance and cardio) into a workout in order to keep the body working and stop it from getting used to any specific regime.
2. Birth Control Pills are Essential
Traditionally, birth control pills were the go-to treatment for regulating menstrual cycles, but they are no longer the first and only recommend course of treatment. Long-term use of birth control pills can greatly increase the risk of heart attack, stroke and blood clots, so doctors typically recommend alternative treatments, including a balanced diet and exercise regime.
It’s also worth noting that, contrary to what some seem to believe, if you have previously used birth control pills for an extended period of time, you can still get pregnant when you stop taking them. You should get checked over by a doctor first as long-term use can cause a number of problems that may affect fertility, including vitamin deficiencies, but there should be no reason why you can’t get pregnant once you stop taking them.
1. You Can’t get Pregnant with PCOS
PCOS is the leading cause of infertility in women, and there is no doubt that it makes it much harder to conceive. However, it’s not impossible. Women can conceive on their own with the help of dietary changes, exercise, and weight loss, and they can also conceive with help from fertility treatments such as in vitro fertilization.
There are also many medications that can improve a woman’s chances of getting pregnant with PCOS and these are steadily improving as we learn more about the condition and the things that can be done to treat it.