Myths about polycystic ovary syndrome and why they’re misleading

Myths about polycystic ovary syndrome and why they’re misleading

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Since polycystic ovary syndrome is not well understood, there is widespread misinformation about this condition.  Misinformation can impact its diagnosis leading to assumptions and generalisations in the absence of facts. 

By Nabeela Khan

Myths around diseases and their treatments is a common phenomenon. These days social media is abuzz with myths on a common hormonal condition called Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). It predominantly affects reproductive-aged women, the age group dependent on the use of the Internet as a major source of health information. But misinformation can impact its diagnosis and treatment.  Although there’s an overwhelming amount of nutrition information, causes, or effects of PCOS on the internet but not all are true.

Since the month of September is dedicated to raising worldwide awareness PCOS, we dispel common myths about PCOS below:

What to eat – Should one avoid chicken, eggs, and sugar?

A popular food chart on social media advises people to avoid sugar, chicken, and dairy. The advice is partly true and some of it is false. Experts say chicken and eggs are not restricted and dairy products should be consumed in moderation but sugar and carbohydrates should be avoided.

The reason behind these do’s and don’t’s is ‘Insulin resistance’ which is the key process underlying PCOS. People with PCOS should avoid sugar and carbohydrates because sugar is a high-calorie food; it gives rise to insulin resistance.

Women with PCOS are the cause of it

Women are usually blamed for conditions for which the exact cause is not known. One such condition is PCOS where the exact cause of PCOS is not known but stay assured that you are not to blame.

There are several underlying factors including genetics. While all women produce small amounts of androgens - male hormones, those with PCOS produce more androgens which can prevent ovulation and thus irregular menstrual cycles.  Because women with PCOS may not ovulate regularly or may not ovulate at all, the follicles might turn into cysts.

But the cause for the hormonal imbalance is not yet known.

Women with PCOS are infertile

Some women with PCOS may have trouble conceiving naturally and may need medication to help them ovulate. But many women with PCOS conceive naturally. Many women with PCOS believe they won’t become pregnant which may impact their mental well-being.

Some women may need mild medication to stimulate ovulation. Women with PCOS need access to accurate information about the possibility of pregnancy and should not self-diagnose based on few symptoms.

It is always advisable to contact your doctor and seek medical advice.