Unmasking the Truth: Debunking 7 Common PCOS Myths

November 14, 2023

Written by Gia Eapen, MD

Medically reviewed by

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women's health

Key Points

  • PCOS is a complex condition with multiple causes, including genetics and hormone levels, and is not self-inflicted.
  • While losing weight can help manage PCOS symptoms, it's not a cure and the condition can affect women of all body types.
  • PCOS is a common hormonal disorder, yet many affected women remain undiagnosed.
  • Despite challenges, conception is often achievable for women with PCOS, and not all PCOS symptoms are experienced by every affected individual.

Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) is a complex hormonal condition that affects a significant number of women during their reproductive years. Misinformation and misconceptions about PCOS are prevalent, which can create unnecessary fears and confusion. In this article, we aim to debunk some of the most common myths about PCOS.

Myth #1: You're Responsible for Your PCOS

PCOS is not a result of your actions or choices. Although the precise origin of PCOS is unknown, it's clear that the blame doesn't rest on your shoulders. The interplay of factors like genetics and elevated levels of androgen hormones significantly contribute to the development of PCOS. If you're struggling to manage your PCOS symptoms or need help with nutritional adjustments, you can work with a Registered Dietitian at Fay for personalized guidance and support.

Myth #2: Every PCOS Case Comes with Ovarian Cysts

While the term "polycystic" might suggest that all individuals with PCOS have ovarian cysts, this isn't always the case. Many women with PCOS have tiny follicles in their ovaries, which might look like small cysts on an ultrasound, but they are, in fact, non-cancerous follicles that usually don't cause pain.

Myth #3: Weight Loss Can Eradicate PCOS

While PCOS is incurable, maintaining a healthy weight can help manage hormone levels and symptoms. However, weight loss is not a cure for PCOS.

Some women with PCOS experience a greater challenge with weight loss due to reduced insulin sensitivity, which can lead to insulin resistance—a risk factor for type 2 diabetes. This can make weight loss more difficult, even with a healthy lifestyle. However, with the guidance of a Registered Dietitian at Fay, effective strategies for weight loss can be developed and implemented. But it's essential to remember that PCOS can affect women of all body types, not just those who are overweight.

Myth #4: PCOS is an Uncommon Condition

Contrary to this belief, PCOS affects approximately 5 to 10 percent of U.S. women of childbearing age. This represents around 5 million women, making PCOS one of the most prevalent hormonal endocrine disorders in this demographic. Despite its frequency, fewer than half of all women with PCOS receive a proper diagnosis, which suggests that millions may be living with the condition without realizing it.

Myth #5: Conception is Unattainable if You Have PCOS

While PCOS can make conception more challenging, many women with PCOS do conceive, sometimes with the aid of fertility treatments.

Myth #6: An Irregular Menstrual Cycle Automatically Indicates PCOS

While PCOS can cause irregular menstrual cycles, there are many other potential causes of this symptom, including stress, thyroid or other endocrine disorders, fibroids, or extreme dieting. It's essential not to self-diagnose based on irregular cycles alone, but to consult with healthcare professionals for accurate diagnosis and management.

Myth #7: All Women with PCOS Experience Unwanted Hair Growth

While hirsutism, or excessive hair growth in a "male" pattern, can be a symptom of PCOS, not all women with PCOS experience this. Factors such as ethnicity can influence the likelihood of excess hair growth. Professional advice, like that provided by the Registered Dietitians at Fay, is an integral part of most PCOS treatment strategies.

Knowledge is a powerful tool. By debunking these myths, we can pave the way towards a more accurate understanding of PCOS, enabling those affected to lead healthier and more fulfilled lives. Remember, assistance and guidance are always available when you book an appointment with Fay.

The views expressed by authors and contributors of such content are not endorsed or approved by Fay and are intended for informational purposes only. The content is reviewed by Fay only to confirm educational value and audience interest. You are encouraged to discuss any questions that you may have about your health with a healthcare provider.


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Gia Eapen, MD

Written by Gia Eapen, MD

Dr. Gia Eapen is a skilled Obstetrics and Gynecology (OB/GYN) physician at Case Western/MetroHealth. A Northwestern University alumna, she pursued her medical degree at the University of Vermont, fostering a deep understanding of women's health and reproductive medicine. She combines her comprehensive knowledge with a dedication to patient-centered care, embodying a commitment to enhancing healthcare standards in her field.


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