Are you all still with me? You’ve done very well if you are!
So far in our “focus week” we’ve covered The medical, the survey, and the personal aspects of PCOS. So what’s left?
The physical signs.
A common side effect of PCOS is being over weight – but that being said it is not exclusively attached to those of us who are bigger. This is thought to be tied down to insulin and the way our bodies process/use it. It is also what makes it harder to lose weight because of the metabolic problems that the insulin and PCOS causes.
Another side effect is having patches of skin which are excessively dark and look almost dirty. This because of PCOS and its insulin effect – Acanthosis Nigricans. Acanthosis Nigricans is a skin condition that produces thick, dark, velvety skin. Typically, the disorder affects only skin on the groin, armpits and neck. However, This is not tied only to PCOS but it is one of the side effects that I personally have.
Hirsutism, which is excess hair on the face, arms, chest and/or back is caused by the hormone imbalance that plagues us “SoulCysters”. Hirsutism affects women with PCOS, since the rising of androgens causes a male pattern of body hair, sometimes excessive, particularly in locations where women normally don’t develop hair during puberty. The medical term for excessive hair growth that affect both men and women is hypertrichosis.
Thinning scalp hair is another one that is a pain the friggin back side! I have a patch on the left hand side of my scalp where I almost have to sculpt my hair to cover this 1CM wide and 5CM long line that my hair hardly grows in. There some drugs that can modestly help this issue but as I am not a doctor, I’m not going to list them here. Suffice it to say, there is help for it, just go and see your GP or your Endocrinologist.
Skin tags popping up on your body, particularly around the neck and armpit, are also tied in with PCOS and the insulin dependance. These can be skin coloured, brown or black. These may die off of their own accord, or you can get them frozen/cut off at your GP. They pose no threat, other than the way you may feel about how they look. However, it is very important to get your tags checked regularly just to make sure that they are not moles (some can look very similar)
Irregular periods are another symptom that generally only the woman picks up on. However, as well know, periods can be irregular for a variety of reasons, non-PCOS related. In SoulCysters, it is caused by a lack of ovulation due to the eggs being collected in cysts and not released. There is a drug given to diabetics that can help this, but once again I am not willing to broadcast it as I am not a doctor.
Now, having one or more symptoms does not mean you have PCOS. But, if after reading this, you feel the need to get checked out, please do.
See you tomorrow for our 5th and final piece on PCOS.