So What Is PCOS And How Do I Find Out About It ?

Polycystic Ovary Syndrome is the name for a collection of hormonal symptoms that affect 10 to 20% of biologically female people to varying degrees. It isn’t always easy to have an accurate diagnosis and the advice given for treatment is often limited. People can have a difficult time trying to sort this out so this is a brief guide to asking the right questions and knowing if the answers are also on the right track.

International Guidelines for Polycystic Ovary Syndrome were published in 2018 and more recently updated. They can be accessed on the website for the Monash University Centre for Health Research and Implementation, along with helpful videos and resources.   This is the source of the current accepted scientific evidence for PCOS and clarifies issues around diagnosis, menstruation, fertility, mood and so on that traditionally people and their GP’s have  struggled to untangle.  One resource available is a GP tool for doctors that you can download and take to your medical appointment to discuss your symptoms and options more fully. They are weight biased though so I dont agree with all recommendations.

Lifestyle change separate to weight is the basis of all treatments. One part of the guideline I like is the one that says there is no one diet for the treatment of PCOS.  There are many ways of eating that suit your tastes and lifestyle that will help with managing your hormones.

Be careful though. Overall the guideline is weight focused which reflects the weight bias and stigma that is such a part of our research and culture. On the other hand a broader picture of health that includes mood, body image and eating disorder awareness has almost made it into the guidelines. Find your best pathway that builds your body and self respect, ensuring you are not caught in a harmful diet and weight based treatment trap.

Guidelines provide a pathway but for each individual but this has to be translated into their own choices for their body and lifestyle.  I have done a podcast with Louise Adams for her All Fired Up website dated June 2018 which summarizes my approach.  The American dietitian Julie Duffy Dillon  has great resources and online learning available or the other website that can be useful is for the women’s health organization Jean Hailes.

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