PCOS…why now?

These are exciting times in the world of #TeamTeal! A House Resolution was introduced into Congress in the USA on 28/07/2017 to recognise the seriousness of Polycystic Ovary Syndrome and expressing support for the designation of September 2017 as Polycystic Ovary Syndrome Awareness Month. You can read the full text of the Resolution here but if you can’t be bothered to wade through it all, I’ll pull out the salient points.

It’s a common health problem and while there is no universal definition of PCOS, researchers estimate that 5 to 10 million women and girls in the USA alone suffer from the syndrome. I’ve seen estimates that 1 in 5 to 1 in 10 women worldwide suffer from it, although it is widely under-reported and often undiagnosed (references below). It’s a staggeringly high number.

The cost to healthcare systems is simply mind-boggling, not only to deal with the symptoms of PCOS itself (an estimated $4.3 billion dollars per year just for primary symptoms), but also to deal with all the secondary complications of it, including diabetes, various cancers and pregnancy issues. A study from the University of Nottingham claims that the annual cost of treating the secondary infertility alone in the UK is £16-22 million.

There is no known cure.

The House of Representatives resolves to recognise the seriousness of the syndrome and support awareness month in its aims, which are to increase awareness of the syndrome amongst the general population and health professionals, improve diagnosis and treatment of the disorder, improve the quality of life of women suffering with it and recognise a need for further research, improved treatment and hopefully a cure for PCOS.

When you read the full text, the implications of it (including the listed symptoms and comorbidities) are sobering. As you’ll come to understand through the stories of various Teal Warriors this month, the lack of awareness in the medical profession about this syndrome, something that affects such a high percentage of women, is shocking. Just as a baseline indicator of the problems we face in this country (the UK) many doctors will refuse to refer you to an endocrinologist, despite this being primarily an endocrine issue and despite NHS guidelines stating otherwise. They will instead refer you to a gynaecologist who may or may not be helpful depending on their knowledge of the syndrome and your goals in treating it.

There is an appalling lack of awareness about this disorder and the severity of its impact on many sufferers. It’s time to change.

 

References

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3872139/

http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/256806-overview#a5

https://atlasofscience.org/the-worldwide-prevalence-and-phenotypic-features-of-polycystic-ovary-syndrome/

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