Monday, April 29, 2013

Nicole's awesome research paper!

A dear friend and cyster wrote this paper for one of her college courses.    I have permission to share.   :)

Misconceptions and Myths of PCOS
        One in four women will suffer from the syndrome that is Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS). Women and teenage girls may have as little as one to all of the symptoms of PCOS which include; irregular to non-exist menstrual cycles, overweight or difficulty losing weight, hirsutism (facial hair), dark patches on skin or skin tags. Other symptoms include acne, infertility/miscarriage, thinning hair/male pattern baldness, insulin resistance, Type 2 Diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, cysts on ovaries, pelvic pain, depression, sleep apnea, decreased sex drive and increase in stress levels. There is also evidence that PCOS could be hereditary. According to the Washington University Physicians, “Both sisters and daughters of women diagnosed with PCOS have a 50% chance of developing this syndrome” (Washington University Physicians, 2013, para 16).  There are also other health effects that can cause severe problems and diseases in women if not treated early in this syndrome.
An article in the Washington University Physician (2013) stated:
For years, PCOS was mislabeled as a cosmetic problem; or, it was considered a problem that only interfered with a woman's ability to become pregnant. Today, researchers have learned that PCOS can affect a woman's long-term health in the following ways: Diabetes - Many women with PCOS have been found to be resistant to their own insulin. This condition can place the patient at risk for the development of diabetes. Heart disease - Research indicates that individuals with high insulin levels often have low levels of high-density lipoproteins (HDL), the good cholesterol, as well as high levels of triglycerides. They also are susceptible to high blood pressure. All of these conditions can increase a person's chances of experiencing a heart attack or stroke and have been observed in women with PCOS.Endometrial cancer - Because women with PCOS don't ovulate regularly, the lining of the uterus isn't shed regularly. If PCOS remains untreated, these women are at risk of developing endometrial cancer. (Washington University Physicians, 2013, para 13-16)
      All these symptoms and conditions may cause confusion, which can ultimately lead to misconceptions and myths about this syndrome. In this paper, I will be taking the position that will shine a light on this condition and its many symptoms in order to set the stage for awareness and its effects on many women and teenage girls’ lives. Many women who suffer from this syndrome deal with hearing many myths and misconceptions of PCOS all the time. Some of these are; only heavy women have PCOS, losing weight will cure the symptoms of PCOS, a hysterectomy will cure PCOS and its symptoms, all women with PCOS have cysts, and conceiving is impossible with this syndrome.  
      Four years ago, I went to my gynecologist hoping to find some answers as to why my husband and I were not conceiving after two years of trying to get pregnant. After finding out I had cysts on my ovaries and having many laboratory blood work tests, my doctor at the time finally diagnosed me with PCOS.  At the time, I had no idea how long I had this syndrome, but I did know from a young age I had presented many of the tell-tale symptoms of this syndrome which were; facial hair, being over-weight, acne, and irregular cycles. I did not have all the symptoms of PCOS.
     Today, I am proud to say that I have lost over 60 pounds with the help of Weight Watchers. I realized after being so overweight and depressed over my diagnosis and inability to conceive that I needed to do something about it. I joined Weight Watchers and learned a new way of eating and exercising by using their points plus program. When I was diagnosed with PCOS back in March of 2009, my doctor emphasized the importance of having a lower BMI and body weight in order to control some of the symptoms of PCOS. She also talked to me about the benefits of having a lower body weight. One of the benefits she discussed with me was that losing weight would help with the symptoms of PCOS, as well as in getting pregnant. I absolutely agree with her that losing weight has helped my symptoms, health, and how I feel about myself tremendously, but I can’t agree with her that it has helped me very much in terms of getting pregnant. Sure, I have come a long way in my health and fitness level, but I still have some of the symptoms of PCOS, and still have the burden of infertility to cope with.  Keep in mind; I have no other health issues other than PCOS. My husband is healthy and has no issues as well. I believe that once you are diagnosed with PCOS that all of the symptoms may never go away, you just learn to live healthier and take care of yourself better so that the symptoms are not so bad, just as in diabetes or in any other illness. My point in saying this is there are women who are thin or normal body weight who have PCOS, and heavy women are not necessarily the only women who have this syndrome.
On the site this misconception is cleared up:
Fiction: All women with PCOS are overweight. While PCOS and the resulting insulin resistance can lead to excess body weight and obesity, not all women who have PCOS are overweight. In fact, roughly, 40% of women with PCOS are classified as “Thin Cysters”. (PCOS: Fact & Fiction, 2012, para 4).
     Another misconception is that women with PCOS should change their diets to “cure” their symptoms. This is also a myth or misconception about this disorder. Diet may help, but it won’t completely cure this syndrome.  
According to,
Fiction: PCOS can be “cured” through diet alone. PCOS is a medical condition that can cause life-threatening consequences if not aggressively treated. While following the proper diet can help relieve some of the symptoms of your symptoms, PCOS requires steady medical treatment and evaluation. (PCOS: Fact & Fiction, 2012, para 9)
     PCOS has been said to be “cured” by a woman getting a hysterectomy or by a woman starting menopause. This fact has been recently debunked or been called a misconception by scientists and doctors studying this syndrome. One of the many reasons is that most doctors do not remove the ovaries when they do a hysterectomy because the woman would need to be on hormone replacement medication for the rest of her life. In an online article I found, this situation is explained further.
An online article I found by A.G. Menezeles, (2012), stated,
     PCOS goes away after menopause, or a hysterectomy or oophorectomy will fix it:
After menopause, some PCOS symptoms such as menstrual irregularities may, obviously, subside. This leads to a false belief that the PCOS has been cured. But, the underlying metabolic causes of PCOS will still remain. Although several changes will occur, menopause does not cure PCOS. Post menopause, women may still experience excess hair and acne, weight gain etc.
     A hysterectomy does not cure PCOS either. As with menopause, issues with menstruation will stop, but it won't stop the other symptoms. Many women with PCOS assume that a hysterectomy or oophorectomy (removal of ovaries) is a suitable treatment option for PCOS. But, the truth is that PCOS is not a syndrome that just affects the ovaries. It is related to hormonal and metabolic issues that will not go away by removal of the ovaries. (para. 7 and 8)
     Just in the name polycystic ovarian syndrome, lays the misconception that cysts have to be present on a woman’s ovaries in order for her to have this disorder. In fact, this is a very common misconception. When a woman has cysts on her ovaries she might not necessarily have this syndrome.
According to it stated,
Fiction: All women with PCOS have ovarian cysts. The name of this disorder is very misleading. PCOS is a hormone-related disorder and ovarian cysts, while common in women with PCOS, do not need to be present in order for this disorder to be diagnosed. Conversely, not all women with ovarian cysts have PCOS. (para. 3)
     Finally, one of the most common misconceptions about this syndrome is that women with PCOS can’t conceive. I have met so many women in my years of trying to conceive that have this syndrome and have went on to conceive and have healthy babies. I have one particular friend who went through numerous procedures, medications, and unfortunately a few miscarriages before she conceived and delivered her now one in a half year old son, Eliot. While I still have many friends who have this syndrome and have not conceived yet, I do believe it is possible with the help of lifestyle changes such as diet, exercise, and managing stress can help a woman conceive. Women with PCOS also may benefit from treatments and procedures such as artificial reproductive technology (A.R.T.) that help women obtain and achieve a health pregnancy. Thankfully, treatments and the use of A.R.T. have been developed over the last 20 years that have helped women with this syndrome conceive and have healthy babies. While these treatments and procedures are not all effective in achieving a pregnancy all the time, the statistics are still much higher for a woman with PCOS to have pregnancy success with the help of treatment or an A.R.T. procedure.
In the online article by A.G. Menezeles (2012), it stated:
Women with PCOS can never conceive:
Some women with PCOS are able to conceive with no assistance, others require minor assistance and others might be successful with IVF. It just depends on the severity of your condition. Although PCOS can pose several complications in conception, it does not prevent you from conceiving. Many women who suffer from PCOS believe that IVF is their only option. However, it is possible to conceive with less invasive treatments. In several cases, losing at least 5 percent body weight, correcting nutritional deficiencies, reducing stress and restoring hormonal balance through medication can help restore ovulation. With proper treatment and a few lifestyle changes, many women having PCOS have gone on to have healthy babies. You can have PCOS and still have babies when you are ready. (para 5)
     In conclusion, I have given many misconceptions and myths on this syndrome. I hope I have shined a light on this syndrome and how it affects many women and teenage girls’ lives. I have responded on key misconceptions such as; only heavy women have PCOS, losing weight will cure the symptoms of PCOS, a hysterectomy will cure PCOS and its symptoms, all women with PCOS have cysts, and conceiving is impossible with this syndrome.  My position was to acknowledge this syndrome and its misconceptions and myths in order to set the stage for awareness of this syndrome in many women and young girls’ lives.
1-in-10. (2012) PCOS : Fact & fiction. Retrieved from
Menezeles, A.G. (March 19, 2012) Popular Myths About Polycystic Ovary Syndrome. Retrieved from
Washington University Physicians (2013) Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome. Retrieved from on April 11, 2013

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