There are many awareness ribbons in circulation in the world today. Numerous groups choose various colours and shades of the rainbow to represent support and awareness for their particular causes. There are some pretty cool, patterned ribbons out there too for using as awareness ribbons. You’ll find that colours may refer to more than one cause and some causes may be represented by more than one ribbon.

Teal is the symbol for ovarian, cervical and uterine cancers as well as tsunami victims, sexual assault and polycystic ovary syndrome. Quite a varied collection!

This post focuses on the latter … polycystic ovary syndrome or PCOS (I’ll use the acronym from now on as the full wording is a bit of a mouthful/screenful!).

It is thought that up to 1 in 10 women suffer with PCOS. More recent research even puts the stats as high as 1 in 5 women?! Well guess what? … I am one of the chosen ones …

What is PCOS?

PCOS is a condition that affects how a woman’s ovaries work. It can cause sufferers the following:

  • Irregular or no periods
  • Excess body hair
  • Weight gain
  • Acne or oily skin
  • Tuberous breasts

The symptoms in more detail

Irregular or absent periods mean that your ovaries don’t release eggs regularly. This is due to polycystic ovaries. This means that your ovaries become enlarged and contain lots of fluid-filled sacs. Sometimes these sacs cannot release an egg which causes menstruation issues. Just to confuse people, polycystic ovaries do not mean you have cysts. Lack of periods may not be a cause of concern for some (almost a blessing in fact) however for those trying to get pregnant, this could be the source of some issues when trying to conceive.

Having too much androgen (which is a male hormone) in your body, may cause physical attributes in women that you would usually associate with men; that is things like facial or body hair. In some cases, women can suffer from thinning hair or hair loss.

Weight gain is another symptom that may cause some difficulties and acne and/or oily skin can also be experienced.

Tuberous breasts can see mild to severe deformity of the breasts with different variations to be seen from patient to patient.

It is important to note that you can suffer from all, a combination or none of these symptoms so at times it can be a hard condition to diagnose.

Treatment options

Even though there isn’t a cure for PCOS, its individual symptoms can be treated. Whether mental or physical a woman suffering from PCOS has to go through a lot. So, create awareness and support it confidently wearing those awareness ribbons. Listed below are some of the options you can consider and I’ve also noted the ones I’ve chosen myself.

For periods, the contraceptive pill can help create a regular menstrual pattern and it’s handy it works as birth control too. It has been working a treat for me. For those trying to conceive, there is medication that can help. I know many people with PCOS who have conceived naturally so please don’t worry if you are trying to get pregnant and you have the condition.

When it comes to excess hair, depending on the location on the body, it may be that you need to shave, pluck or wax a little more often than other women. I personally struggled with this symptom and a previous boyfriend once pointed it out to me. Mid argument. Awful timing though and I was mortified. Laser treatment is an option for hair and one that I undertook a little while ago. It really helped me. More on the mental issues my ex caused later.

Weight gain can be combatted by ensuring your diet is balanced and healthy. There is so much advice online about sticking to a healthy routine but if you’re struggling, there are so many inspiring groups out there that you can join. The same applies to exercise. You can exercise in so many ways – you don’t have to be a gym fanatic to reap the benefits of exercise. Simply upping your daily steps, joining a weekly class or going out for a cycle will help. If you turn gym fanatic in the process, that is also OK!

For acne and oily skin, there are many products to buy either over the counter or by prescription if you need something a little stronger. However improving diet and exercise may, at the same time, improve skin.

And for sufferers of tuberous breasts, there are things that can be done. Some symptoms are mild and don’t need treatment. For me, I opted for cosmetic surgery as mine were more noticeable. This isn’t for everyone but it was what was right for me.

Above I’ve only listed treatments for the physical indicators but these symptoms can affect mental health too and can be damaging to confidence. As I mentioned earlier, my ex once pointed out my hair issue with terrible timing and my self-confidence really took a blow. So rest assured, there is a wide range of treatment options available if you’re struggling mentally with the condition too. From prescribed medications to talking therapies. There is no shame in struggling when there is help available.

Everyone is different

The main thing to realise is that everyone is different and everyone’s symptoms may present differently.

You may be a woman with PCOS but never experience any major problems. You may suffer with one symptom seriously and nothing else at all. You may suffer from all the symptoms but only mildly.

If you suspect you may have PCOS, book in an appointment with your GP. They are so understanding and have such a great grasp of the issue.

You don’t need to suffer in silence.

The changes I have made have transformed my life – for the better!

So wear those (teal)awareness ribbons with pride ladies!

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