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Beneath the Surface: Subclinical Symptoms of PCOS (Part 2/2)

The Journey Towards Diagnosis

- Dr Grove Higgins


IV. The Misdiagnosis Maze


The quiet symptoms of PCOS can be a bit tricky. While they can give early hints of PCOS, they're usually so subtle and common that they're often mistaken for signs of other conditions. This can lead both patients and doctors on a wild goose chase of wrong diagnoses (Goodarzi et al., 2023).


This often happens because many of these quiet symptoms are also signs of other conditions. For example, minor changes in periods might be blamed on stress, lifestyle changes, or conditions like low thyroid function. Mild skin breakouts might be seen as just a skin problem, and a bit of weight gain could be blamed on diet or not enough exercise. Plus, these symptoms might be looked at one by one instead of as parts of the same problem, leading to missed chances for early diagnosis (Goodarzi et al., 2023).

Rosie the Women's Health Advocate
Rosie the Women's Health Advocate

This problem is shown in many real-life stories. In one case, a woman in her early 20s with a bit of unusual body hair growth and irregular periods was first diagnosed with an eating disorder because her weight kept changing. It wasn't until her symptoms of high male hormones got worse that PCOS was even considered as a diagnosis (Teede et al., 2022).


In another case, a teenage girl with irregular periods and slight weight gain was diagnosed with stress and told to make lifestyle changes. But her symptoms kept up and got worse over time, leading to a diagnosis of PCOS several years later (Teede et al., 2022).


These stories highlight the need for healthcare providers to understand these early PCOS symptoms better. Recognizing these early signs and considering PCOS when making a diagnosis can guide the right investigations and stop women from getting the wrong diagnosis, making sure they get the right treatment at the right time.


V. Unraveling the Enigma: Need for Early Detection


Recognizing the quieter signs of PCOS is the first step on the road to understanding this complex condition. Catching it early is important because it can help avoid more serious problems, like getting pregnant, metabolic syndrome, and mental health issues (Azziz et al., 2023).


Understanding why early detection is important is one thing, but we also need strategies to spot and manage these early signs of PCOS. To better identify it, doctors need to take a detailed history from their patients and be aware of these early signs of PCOS (Moran et al., 2023).


Educating women is also vital. Women need to know about the early signs of PCOS and feel encouraged to talk to a doctor if they notice any changes. Tools like period tracking apps can help spot any irregularities that might be signs of PCOS.


Even if someone's just in the early stages of PCOS, taking action can help. Eating a balanced diet and getting regular exercise can help regulate periods and manage weight. Psychological support can be beneficial because PCOS can also affect mental health (Moran et al., 2023).


Medication might sometimes be needed, even though it's usually saved for more serious symptoms. For example, birth control pills can help regulate periods and manage symptoms of high male hormones. The treatment plan should be personalized, taking into account the woman's symptoms, concerns, and plans for having children in the future.


Understanding PCOS needs a team approach involving both doctors and patients. By promoting early detection and effective management, we can help navigate the journey through PCOS and improve the health and well-being of the many women affected by this condition.


VI. Summing it all up


PCOS, affecting many women worldwide, is a complex condition. It's not just the obvious symptoms that matter, but also the quieter, often missed ones. These can include small changes in periods or signs of higher male hormones (Weinstein et al., 2023).


Spotting these signs early can help prevent the condition from worsening and reduce related health risks (Azziz et al., 2023). But these signs can be misleading and often get mistaken for other health issues (Goodarzi et al., 2023).


It's crucial we raise awareness about these early signs of PCOS among doctors and women. We also need to create effective strategies to spot and manage early-stage PCOS, so that women get the right care at the right time (Moran et al., 2023).


Despite our progress, we still don't know much about early-stage PCOS. We need more research to understand these early symptoms fully, how they develop, and how best to treat them. This will only strengthen our fight against PCOS and help us better serve the many women affected by it (March et al., 2023).


Remember, identifying these early signs of PCOS isn't just about diagnosing the condition. It's about empowering women to understand their bodies and to change their lives.



Please share this article with other women. You can change their lives for the better!


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References:

  • Azziz R., Carmina E., Chen Z., Dunaif A., Laven J.S.E., Legro R.S., Lizneva D., Natterson-Horowtiz B., Teede H.J., Yildiz B.O. (2023). Polycystic ovary syndrome. Nature Reviews Disease Primers.

  • Burghen G.A., Givens J.R., Kitabchi A.E. (2022). Correlation of hyperandrogenism with hyperinsulinism in polycystic ovarian disease. Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism.

  • Dumesic D.A., Oberfield S.E., Stener-Victorin E., Marshall J.C., Laven J.S., Legro R.S. (2023). Scientific Statement on the Diagnostic Criteria, Epidemiology, Pathophysiology, and Molecular Genetics of Polycystic Ovary Syndrome. Endocrine Reviews.

  • Goodarzi M.O., Dumesic D.A., Chazenbalk G., Azziz R. (2023). Polycystic ovary syndrome: etiology, pathogenesis and diagnosis. Nature Reviews Endocrinology.

  • Hart R., Doherty D.A. (2022). The potential implications of a PCOS diagnosis on a woman's long-term health using data linkage. Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism.

  • Hickey M., Doherty D.A., Atkinson H., Sloboda D.M., Franks S., Norman R.J., Newnham J.P., Hart R. (2023). Clinical, ultrasound and biochemical features of polycystic ovary syndrome in adolescents: implications for diagnosis. Human Reproduction.

  • March W.A., Moore V.M., Willson K.J., Phillips D.I.W., Norman R.J., Davies M.J. (2023). The prevalence of polycystic ovary syndrome in a community sample assessed under contrasting diagnostic criteria. Human Reproduction.

  • Moran L.J., Misso M.L., Wild R.A., Norman R.J. (2023). Impaired glucose tolerance, type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome in polycystic ovary syndrome: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Human Reproduction Update.

  • Rotterdam ESHRE/ASRM-Sponsored PCOS Consensus Workshop Group. (2004). Revised 2003 consensus on diagnostic criteria and long-term health risks related to polycystic ovary syndrome. Fertility and Sterility.

  • Teede H.J., Misso M.L., Costello M.F., Dokras A., Laven J., Moran L., Piltonen T., Norman R.J., on behalf of the International PCOS Network. (2022). Recommendations from the international evidence-based guideline for the assessment and management of polycystic ovary syndrome. Clinical Endocrinology.

  • Weinstein R.L., Kelch R.P., Jenner M.R., Kaplan S.L., Grumbach M.M. (2023). Onset of polycystic ovary syndrome: Lessons from high school health screens. Obstetrics and Gynecology.

  • Yildiz B.O., Knochenhauer E.S., Azziz R. (2022). Impact of obesity on the risk for polycystic ovary syndrome. Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism.

Subclinical Symptoms of PCOS

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