Now that we’ve gone over the basics of what exactly Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome is (link to blog post)—and what PCOS myths you should absolutely tune out (link to blog post)—we want to get to the most time-consuming part of your PCOS journey: how to navigate your health and life after a PCOS diagnosis.
The first thing we want to get out of the way is that there is no one-size-fits-all cure. While you may share symptoms with another PCOS-diagnosed woman, you need to forge your own path forward. Your PCOS is as unique as you are.
Or as Jessi, a blogger who writes about navigating life with PCOS, puts it:
Over the years of dealing with PCOS, I have learned just how different this syndrome is from woman to woman. No two are the same and it’s mind boggling to me.… Remedies that work for some don’t work for others.
So, since dealing with PCOS is a lot more complex than just taking one magic pill, what steps should you take to ensure that you’re living your healthiest life?
Chances are you found out that you have PCOS in your gynecologist’s office, but this is also the first person you should turn to for advice. Here’s why: since PCOS is such a common condition, your gynecologist probably has a lot of experience treating women with PCOS.
Step 1: Getting Back On Schedule
If you’re not planning on getting pregnant in the near future, one of the easiest fixes for irregular periods is simply getting on hormonal birth control. Many gynecologists will recommend oral contraceptives, since this method of birth control is especially effective at making sure you have a regular period. An added bonus? The birth control pill also works to combat side effects like acne and hirsutism (or excess body hair).
But if birth control pills aren’t right for you—and you should consult your gynecologist before making this decision—you can also take progestin. This hormone can be taken for roughly two weeks every one to three months in order to stimulate your menstruation. It doesn’t do anything to combat acne or hirsutism, however.
And if you are planning on starting a family? Check out our previous post (link to post) for more helpful info.
Step 2: Dealing With Fuzz
We want to talk about the hairy issue of…excess hair.
This is one topic that can be tackled outside the gynecologist’s office. Depending on how much hair growth you’re experiencing, you might want to approach depilation in different ways.
The cheapest and easiest method? Shaving. (And the myth that shaved hair grows back fuller and coarser is just that: a myth.) There are also the (less cost-effective) methods of electrolysis and laser therapy, which can achieve long-lasting or permanent states of hairlessness.
And we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention another solution: embracing your hair like Harnaam Kaur, a PCOS-diagnosed Instagram star who rocks a full, glossy beard.
As the body positivity advocate says:
One in five women have polycystic ovaries and lots of them approach me about how to counter the bullying and how to accept themselves.… I want them to say: “Well, Harnaam is on the catwalk, why not me?” Bearded ladies were once laughed at – I want to break the mould.
Step 3: A Weighty Issue
Even though being obese or overweight isn’t a cause of PCOS, struggles with weight are a very real part of many PCOS-diagnosed women’s lives.
This is especially frustrating because, among overweight and obese PCOS-diagnosed women, weight loss can help combat such symptoms as menstrual irregularity. So while many doctors encourage women with PCOS to lose weight, many women with PCOS find that it’s difficult to achieve weight loss.
Our advice? Avoid fad diets and stick to the boring basics: exercise more and avoid high-calorie foods. If this tried-and-true method isn’t working for you, you can approach your doctor about medical solutions such as taking Metformin (which has proven to aid in weight loss) or, in certain situations, weight loss surgery. And because PCOS is associated with diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and high cholesterol, it’s a good idea to regularly check your blood sugar and hemoglobin A1c levels.
Step 4: Find Out More
Even if you’re out of school, it’s time to hit the books. Turn to trustworthy resources, because accessing additional information can be a valuable step towards approaching your condition with knowledge and optimism.
Here are some we recommend:
- The National Library of Medicine (www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/healthtopics.html)
- The Hormone Health Network (www.hormone.org/diseases-and-conditions/womens-health/polycystic-ovary-syndrome)
- The US Department of Health and Human Services (www.womenshealth.gov/publications/our-publications/fact-sheet/polycystic-ovary-syndrome.html)
We also want to leave you with some inspiration from Harnaam Kaur, who says: “I live by the phrase ‘My body, my rules.'”
We couldn’t have put it better. Your body is yours alone, and it’s helpful to remember that as you embark on your journey with PCOS.