Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a perfect example of this. Yet, while wading through the piles of information, you’ll want to sort out the facts from the fiction.
Here are five myths about PCOS:
1. You did something to cause it.While the exact cause of PCOS is still unclear, one thing is certain: You are not to blame.
There is a relationship between certain hormone levels and PCOS. Changes in the amount of these hormones can make it more difficult to have regular menstrual cycles and release eggs that are fully mature.
The hormones in question—androgens—are male hormones, but women’s bodies produce them as well. Women with PCOS generally have higher levels of androgen. Some scientists think that another hormone—insulin—may play a role in the body’s increased androgen production.
There may also be a genetic component as well, explains the Office on Women's Health. Mothers and sisters of women who have PCOS are more likely to be affected by this condition, too.
2. If you lose weight, you can get rid of PCOS.Unfortunately, there is no cure for PCOS. But overweight or obese women can help balance their hormone levels by losing weight. Otherwise, treatment is aimed at managing symptoms.
A wide range of treatment options can help prevent any potential problems.
Lifestyle changes, such as eating healthy and regular exercise, improve the way your body uses insulin and, therefore, regulate your hormone levels better.
Birth control pills are a good treatment option for women who aren’t interested in getting pregnant any time soon, because they can regulate menstrual cycles and reduce androgen levels.
Fertility medications can help women who want to get pregnant by stimulating ovulation. In some cases, that may be enough to spur the process for women with a lack of ovulation—the main reason women with PCOS struggle with fertility.
A surgical procedure known as ovarian drilling can also increase your chances of successful ovulation. While the operation can temporarily lower your androgen levels, the operation does have a risk of creating scar tissue.
3. PCOS is a rare condition.Scientists estimate that anywhere between four percent and 18 percent of women have PCOS. On the high end, that’s nearly one in five women.
But, according to the PCOS Foundation, less than half of all women with PCOS are actually diagnosed correctly, meaning that millions of women are unaware of their condition.
The PCOS Foundation estimates that this condition is the cause of fertility issues in women who have trouble with ovulation around 70 percent of the time.
4. You can’t get pregnant if you have PCOS.Not true—at least, not for everyone. Give your body a chance by talking with your doctor about fertility treatment. A number of medications can stimulate ovulation, which, according to the Office on Women's Health, is the main issue that women with PCOS face.
Other fertility treatments for women with PCOS include insemination and IVF.
5. PCOS only affects overweight women.It is true that many women who have PCOS are overweight or obese. And it’s also true that obesity can make PCOS symptoms worse. However, PCOS does not discriminate and can affect women of all shapes and sizes.
The relationship between weight and PCOS has to do with the body’s inability to use insulin properly, which can lead to weight gain, says the Obesity Action Coalition.