PCOS is not a pamphlet disease!

Photo credit: Apex Family Dentistry

My dental hygienist likes to chat as she cleans my teeth although my responses all sound the same: “Whaaaai waaa wu wooono.” I always wondered the point to her questions if she couldn’t understand my answers.

Recently she asked me what I did for a living. “Iah het hehul enoy eeaan ahen.” She put her utensils down and asked me again without the obstacles. “I help people enjoy eating again.”

Asking for more clarification, I told her about my work with individuals affected by disordered eating and polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS). She was surprised to find out people actually work with PCOS.

I was surprised by her surprise. I let her know PCOS affects the mind, body and spirit. It can affect work, relationships, and family. Without treatment, a woman can experience emotional and physical pain while thinking she is to blame for all of it.

My dental hygienist’s jaw dropped enough for me to see zero cavity history (all that flossing!). Her eyes seemed to be connecting dots. Then, she looked at me and said, “When I was diagnosed I was just given a pamphlet.”

Runny nose, sprained ankle, flu, and pink eye are pamphlet diseases. Getting this type of treatment minimizes its impact and your ability to change it. PCOS is not a pamphlet disease. Here’s why:

  • It is a chronic condition that cannot just go away on its own.
  • It affects your physical health. Untreated PCOS promotes insulin resistance and can progress to Type 2 Diabetes.
  • PCOS disturbs sleep. This affects attention ability, food choices, and mental health.
  • This condition is the number 1 cause of infertility.
  • Untreated PCOS promotes hormonal changes making one feel depressed and/or anxious. Mood disorders are very common when affected by this disease.
  • Women with PCOS are at much higher risk to develop an eating disorder. One reason I see daily: insulin resistance (IR) promotes weight gain. A woman may try to lose weight yet IR makes this tougher or impossible through cutting calories or other diets. Even more, IR promotes intense carb and sugar cravings. Dieting plus carb cravings set up a person for bingeing. When this happens, the woman trying to lose weight can blame herself and tries harder. This only makes the craving and binges worse.
PCOS is not for the pamphlet file!

If you experience PCOS, I encourage you to move beyond the pamphlet. This disease requires you to be an advocate and seek out information to heal. And, heal you can! To start, add a registered dietitian trained in PCOS management as well as a counselor to your treatment team. Further, support groups provide more emotional assistance and can keep  connected to the latest treatments. Lastly, stay abreast of PCOS research by following inCYST blog and on Facebook.

And, give your health care provider back her pamphlet. Tell her how unhelpful it was.