PCOS And Birth Control: Your Ultimate Cheat-Sheet

What is PCOS?

PCOS, otherwise known as Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, is a condition in which a woman has a hormonal imbalance in relation to her reproductive system. Your menstrual cycle is controlled by your hormones which are released by your brain to make your ovaries release eggs and when the eggs don’t get fertilised, the lining of your uterus cleans itself out resulting in a period.  This is meant to happen every month but when you have PCOS, your ovaries have little cysts but the eggs are not released on a regular schedule.

What are some symptoms of PCOS?

Women living with PCOS usually experience irregular periods, which means their periods are unpredictable and your period can be a no show for as long as a couple of months.  Other symptoms include a sudden increase in acne and facial and body hair, weight gain, thinning of hair on the head and changes in the colour of your skin. 

How birth control works to help with PCOS

You’d be surprised, but PCOS and birth control actually have a bit to do with each other where treatment is concerned. Birth control is used to mitigate the symptoms and effects that women may face while living with PCOS. The type of birth control that will be prescribed to you will usually be determined by your needs and what needs to be regulated.

What birth control does is to try and bring your various hormones into harmony such that there is no one hormone that is overpowering the others. For example, all women have testosterone in their bodies however if testosterone is overpowering the other hormones and causing increased hair growth, for example, then a combination of progestin and oestrogen birth control methods such as the pill or the patch will work best. 

For women who cannot or choose not to use combination birth control, healthcare professionals can sometimes prescribe progestin-only methods to treat their issues. Some of these methods are progestin-only pills, Depo Provera shots, the implant, and hormonal IUDs. 

To get more of your contraceptive questions answered, join our community chat circle to speak to other women and get advice from medical experts by clicking on this link. You can also book a contraceptive consult with a qualified health professional on www.mycontraceptive.co.za.

Sources: Westmed Family Healthcare, Healthline

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