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PCOS Myths and Facts: Part 2
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PCOS Myths and Facts: Part 2

Here’s the thing: you know that your healthcare provider is the best source of information about how to manage PCOS. But, the internet is tempting, and every once in a while, you’ll find yourself diving head first down a rabbit hole – Googling keywords like, “best ways to manage PCOS” or “PCOS diet.” When you finally climb out of that rabbit hole, you’re more confused than ever, unsure of what’s true and what’s not.

Take a deep breath – you’re in the right place. It’s time to set the record straight on five more PCOS myths. If you haven’t read part one yet, you can catch up here.

PCOS Myth #1: PCOS is a rare condition.

Fact: About 1 in 10 women of reproductive age in the United States have PCOS.

Even though PCOS affects about 1 in 10 women of reproductive age in the United States, many don’t know they have it – and it’s not always easy to get a diagnosis. In fact, many women aren’t diagnosed with PCOS until they’re struggling to get pregnant.

PCOS awareness is still a growing movement. If you think you may have PCOS, seek counsel from a healthcare provider that’s experienced and knowledgeable about PCOS. And if you’ve recently been diagnosed with PCOS and don’t know where to start, check out this blog next: “I Have PCOS – Now What?”

PCOS Myth #2: All women with PCOS have ovarian cysts.

Fact: You can have PCOS without ovarian cysts.

But the name of the condition is polycystic ovary syndrome, right? Well, yes. But you can still be diagnosed with PCOS even if you don’t have cysts on your ovaries.

There are a few different guidelines for PCOS diagnosis, but the Endocrine Society recommends that clinicians use the Rotterdam criteria to effectively diagnose PCOS. The Rotterdam criteria considers three common findings in women with PCOS – and you only need two of them to be diagnosed with PCOS.

  • Irregular menstrual cycles
  • High androgen levels
  • Polycystic ovaries

PCOS Myth #3: You have to avoid dairy and gluten if you have PCOS.

Fact: Unless you feel better without dairy and gluten, you can still include them in your diet.

When you change something about your diet or lifestyle, you do it because you think it’s going to benefit your health and your quality of life. Because if it won’t – what’s the point?

That’s where scientific research comes in. Researchers work to find out what actually works to keep your body healthy, so you can adopt lifestyle habits based on evidence instead of what you heard from a friend or read on the internet.

So what’s the deal with dairy, gluten, and PCOS?

There’s no evidence to suggest that all women with PCOS need to avoid gluten and dairy. If gluten and dairy don’t bother you, then you don’t have to eliminate them from your diet. But if you feel better without gluten and/or dairy, you may consider talking with a registered dietitian. They can help you create a gluten- or dairy-free diet and make sure you still get all the nutrients you need.

PCOS Myth #4: Birth control is the only way to manage PCOS.

Fact: Birth control can be helpful for some women with PCOS, but it’s not your only option.

Birth control is commonly prescribed to help women manage PCOS – and if you don’t have any immediate plans to get pregnant, it can be beneficial. Hormonal birth control comes in many forms, including the pill, vaginal ring, patch, and hormonal IUD. These types of birth control can help support menstrual regularity and promote healthy androgen levels, which may also help reduce acne and excess facial or body hair growth.

Keep in mind that birth control isn’t a “fix” for PCOS – it’s just one of many tools to help you manage the symptoms. It’s still important to adopt a healthy lifestyle and manage your PCOS from within, so be sure you have a healthcare team that’s knowledgeable about PCOS on your side.

If you’re trying to get pregnant or just don’t want to take hormonal birth control, you don’t have to. Your healthcare is your choice. But be sure to talk with a PCOS-informed healthcare provider about alternative ways to support healthy hormone levels and manage your PCOS.

PCOS Myth #5: You can get rid of PCOS.

Fact: Unfortunately, there’s no cure for PCOS – but you can successfully manage it.

It may feel disheartening to hear that there’s no cure for PCOS, but there are still plenty of ways to manage PCOS so that you can live your best life. When you’re feeling overwhelmed, lean on the PCOS community for support. There are plenty of online resources to connect you with so many other strong women with PCOS – women ready to lend a listening ear, offer encouragement, and share in your wins.

Need to see the light at the end of the tunnel? Check out this blog next: “Managing PCOS in Women: Success Stories.

Knowledge is power and seeking information to help you manage PCOS is great. But don’t let yourself fall victim to these PCOS myths. If you’re not sure about something you’ve heard (or read), talk about it with your healthcare team. If there’s no evidence to back it up, there’s little reason to adopt it into your lifestyle.



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