Debunking 5 Common Myths About PCOS
September 11, 2018
By Brianna McCabe
Certain medical conditions have the potential to change your life, and if diagnosed, will naturally have some individuals frantically sifting through dozens of web pages to learn every nuance of the health matter.
The reliability of information can be questionable, though. After all, the internet is an endless vault of data and you can find yourself reading contradicting articles, irrational opinions, and faulty – or even hazardous – medical advice.
No matter how common the medical condition is, fictitious health “facts” can plague the internet. One example of a regularly misunderstood condition is polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), a hormonal imbalance that affects 1 in 10 women of childbearing age.
According to David H. Moskowitz, M.D., FACOG, a board certified OB/GYN at Hackensack Meridian Health Medical Group, although it is one of the most common endocrine disorders found in women, less than 50% of those affected are actually diagnosed. Of those diagnosed, a large majority do not seem to fully understand the condition.
Women with PCOS have higher levels of androgens, or male hormones, as well as elevated levels of insulin, a hormone that helps to regulate blood sugar. PCOS is the leading cause of infertility and can be identified through symptoms such as:
Excess hair growth on the face or body
Weight gain or trouble losing weight
Patches of dark, thick skin
When diagnosing his patients with PCOS, Dr. Moskowitz frequently finds himself dispelling five common myths about the condition:
If you have PCOS, you have cysts on your ovaries. “I’ve seen women absent of cysts who have PCOS, and others with cysts who don’t have PCOS, so this isn’t always the case,” shares Dr. Moskowitz. “In most cases, tiny follicles that haven't released an egg are built up in the ovaries and look like a string of pearls in ultrasound images.”
PCOS can be cured. “Although there isn’t a cure for the condition, I always reassure my patients that PCOS isn’t a fatal diagnosis – although it’s not desirable,” says Dr. Moskowitz. “OB/GYNs will work with their patients to try and regulate the hormones and suppress the excess androgen. Together with your doctor, it can be managed.”
Every woman with PCOS should start taking oral contraceptives. The pill is a common way doctors treat the menstrual irregularities of PCOS and regulate hormones. “This depends largely on a woman’s goal, though,” explains Dr. Moskowitz. “If a woman is trying to conceive, then your doctor will obviously not recommend the pill. However, this is one of the most common ways to help get your hormones in-check.”
You can’t get pregnant with PCOS. When a woman has PCOS, the hormonal imbalance interferes with ovulation; if you aren’t ovulating, then you can’t conceive. “There is medication available to boost ovulation and give the body extra estrogen,” reassures Dr. Moskowitz. “Although it’s more difficult, it’s definitely possible to still conceive. Talk to your OB/GYN to determine the best options for you.”
You can’t lose weight. “It tends to be harder for women with PCOS to lose weight, but it’s not impossible,” says Dr. Moskowitz. “If you find that you are still struggling to lose weight with sufficient exercise and a nutritious diet, talk to your doctor.”
“Engage in an open dialogue with your doctor to truly learn about PCOS,” says Dr. Moskowitz. “By distinguishing the facts from the myths, you can become empowered to take control of your health.”
Dr. Moskowitz rotates between his OB/GYN practices in Toms River (1112 Commons Way, Building F) and Oakhurst (250 Monmouth Road). If you would like to schedule an appointment with Dr. Moskowitz, call 732-349-9755 for his Toms River office and 732-517-8887 for his Oakhurst office. To find a provider near you, visit HackensackMeridianHealth.org.
The material provided through Health Hub is intended to be used as general information only and should not replace the advice of your physician. Always consult your physician for individual care.