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12 Myths about PCOS Debunked

Published : October 8, 2021 5 mins read Updated On : Jun 10, 2024

PCOS or polycystic ovary syndrome is a complicated hormonal disorder that affects one in ten women of reproductive age (1). In this condition, the ovaries may develop numerous small collections of fluid (follicles) and fail to release eggs regularly. Additionally, it causes an increase in the number of male hormones - androgens and testosterone. Often, it makes the body insulin resistant, resulting in weight gain and an increased risk of Type 2 diabetes.

With such complicated disorders it is common to have some misinformation amongst people. This can impact diagnosis and treatment, and ultimately prevent a woman from effectively living well with PCOS. In this blog we will answer some common PCOS myths vs facts so that you can have a better understanding about this condition.

12 Common Myths and Facts about PCOS

1. PCOS means You have Polycystic Ovaries

You'd think you could figure out the ailment just by looking at the name, but that's not the case. For certain people, the term "Polycystic Ovary Syndrome" is a misnomer. You need to meet two out of the three criteria to be diagnosed with androgen excess, which causes hirsutism, acne and hair loss, irregular menstruation, and numerous follicles/cystic ovaries (2).

2. You Grow Hair in the Places You Don’t Want

Hirsutism, or abnormal hair growth in women, is a prevalent sign of PCOS; because of an overabundance of androgens. PCOS can cause unwanted hair to grow on the upper lip, chin, chest, etc. However, it is quite possible for you to have PCOS and not grow excessive hair in unwanted places (3).

3. If You Have PCOS, You Won't Be Able to Conceive

PCOS adversely impacts fertility (4). The hormonal imbalance harms the ovaries' ability to release an egg that can be fertilized for pregnancy. You can still get pregnant naturally or with fertility medicines such as follicle-stimulating drugs. Don't be discouraged if someone tells you it's impossible to start a family if you have PCOS. Consulting a fertility specialist can assist you in achieving your goals. Managing PCOS symptoms in the early stage will also help in the future.

4. You have PCOS if Your Menstrual Cycle is Irregular

PCOS is one of many causes that might cause an irregular cycle. A normal cycle can last anywhere between 21 to 35 days. Consult your OB-GYN if your period lasts fewer than 22 days or more than 34 days. Breastfeeding, excessive dieting or overexercising, pelvic inflammatory disease, uterine fibroids, and thyroid issues are all possible causes of an out-of-whack cycle (5). Stress might also play a role. Your doctor can determine the likely cause through an examination and, if necessary, further testing.

5. You Don't Have to Worry About PCOS If You Don't Want to Get Pregnant

PCOS doesn't just damage a person/woman's fertility; it can have a long-term influence on their overall health. Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, sleep apnea, depression, anxiety, and endometrial cancer have been associated with this condition.

6. Everyone Who has PCOS Struggles with Weight Loss

There's a popular misconception that you must be the stereotypical obese woman the fat, bearded lady. The problem is that, as a syndrome, PCOS affects people in a variety of ways. Obesity and overweight are more common.

Lean PCOS is not that common, but it does exist. The dangers of using weight as a criterion are twofold: underweight or normal women may be misdiagnosed, and overweight women might unnecessarily be treated for PCOS.

7. You Need Ultrasound to Diagnose PCOS

An ultrasound isn't required if you have PCOS because the existence of numerous follicles or cystic ovaries isn't a requirement. They may do so, especially if you're seeing an ob-gyn, but only if you don't match the criteria for hirsutism or irregular periods and PCOS is still suspected.

8. You can Lose Weight with PCOS Just Like Anyone Else

It's true that shedding a bit of weight say, 7% can help control your menstrual cycle. But it isn't always simple. Many even exercise regularly and eat right, but they continue struggling with weight loss. That isn't to suggest they won't be able to lose weight; many people have been on successful weight-loss programs in the past. What is obvious, however, is that the notion that weight loss is just a matter of calorie intake vs calorie expenditure is oversimplified. We now understand that losing weight is more difficult.

9. You'll Know If You Have PCOS For Sure

PCOS isn't always accompanied by symptoms. It's easy to attribute typical symptoms like acne, mood swings, and irregular periods to other factors, such as stress. One of the reasons PCOS is frequently overlooked is because of this. Undiagnosed PCOS affects between 50% to 70% of women (6).

10. If You Have PCOS, You Should Take the Birth Control Pill

Doctors frequently prescribe hormonal birth control to patients with PCOS menstrual irregularities. However, the treatment for PCOS will be determined by your end goal. You will not use a birth control pill if you desire to get pregnant. Furthermore, the medication acts as a band-aid, masking the symptoms. Women are encouraged to take a more holistic approach to their hormonal health by lowering stress and adopting an anti-inflammatory diet (7).

11. PCOS is a Lifetime Problem

While there is no cure for PCOS, there are specific ways to manage your symptoms. You should never give up on the hope of feeling better. You may never be able to claim, "I've cured myself", but you can definitely be in a healing process that brings your body back into balance at any time. This is possible with the right workout and diet. However, a diet alone will not provide the nutrients you need to manage PCOS. Thus, supplementation is also recommended.

12. Insulin Resistance in PCOS can Cause Weight Gain

Many healthcare experts still struggle to understand why women with PCOS are often overweight. One cause is identified as insulin resistance, but weight gain can happen for a lot of reasons, many of which have nothing to do with insulin.


Dealing with PCOS is challenging for women. Misinformation can cause problems in diagnosis and treatment. Hope this blog has helped to clear some common myths people have about PCOS. Awareness is the first step to managing PCOS. Do not try to deal with PCOS alone. Take help from doctors and your friends and family to live a fulfilling life while managing PCOS.


1. What can be mistaken for PCOS?

Conditions that can be mistaken for PCOS include thyroid disorders, adrenal hyperplasia, Cushing's syndrome, insulin resistance, androgen-secreting tumors, hyperprolactinemia, and ovarian tumors, due to overlapping symptoms like irregular periods and hirsutism.

2. How do I confirm I have PCOS?

To confirm PCOS, doctors use the Rotterdam criteria: two of three symptoms—irregular periods, high androgen levels, and polycystic ovaries on ultrasound—after excluding other conditions.

3. What does a PCOS belly look like?

A PCOS belly often appears as central obesity, with excess fat around the abdomen, giving a rounded or "apple-shaped" look, due to insulin resistance and hormonal imbalances.


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