PCOS is seriously underdiagnosed
About 7 million U.S. women have polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), which results when excess insulin increases the production of androgens (male hormones). It’s the most common hormonal disorder among women of reproductive age—as many as one in ten will develop PCOS—yet shockingly, it’s estimated that more than half don’t know they have it. “I see women regularly who’ve remained undiagnosed their entire lives,” says Fiona McCulloch, ND, a naturopathic doctor in Toronto and author of the forthcoming book 8 Steps to Reverse Your PCOS. That’s scary, considering that PCOS is linked to diabetes (one recent study from Monash University in Australia showed that women with PCOS—even if they’re young and not overweight—are five times more likely to develop type 2 diabetes) and heart disease, the leading killer of women. Being treated for PCOS can safeguard your life, so it’s important to recognize PCOS symptoms, which can vary from woman to woman. Here are some of the most common.
Women with PCOS have higher-than-normal levels of androgens (testosterone is the most well-known), which can slow down your ovaries and interfere with ovulation. “When ovulation is inhibited, your period, which comes two weeks after ovulation, will also arrive late—and in some cases, not at all,” says Dr. McCulloch. For women with irregular periods and PCOS, periods are often irregular from the start. In others, periods become irregular years later. According to Dr. McCulloch, women with PCOS symptoms experience irregular periods more often when they’ve gained weight or experienced a lot of stress. Here are other 11 medical reasons you might miss your period.