Do You Have PCOS? Here's What You Need to Know

Amanda Montell

Here at Byrdie HQ, we firmly believe that there are no taboos when it comes to female health—and that's why we're making it our mission to destigmatise any and all discussion surrounding birth control, our periods, and any other topic related to reproductive wellness. It's something we stand by all year long, but in observation of Women's Health Week, we're highlighting some of our best guides and stories on the subject. Tune in all week long to get versed on your options when it comes to birth control, what it's really like to get an IUD, why you should care about which tampons you buy, and more.

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The words polycystic ovary syndrome are Googled over 100,000 times every month. It's no surprise the search volume is so high—PCOS is the most common hormonal disorder in women of reproductive age, though it isn't discussed often in everyday life.

According to Fiona McCulloch, ND, a PCOS sufferer herself, the condition affects "10% to 15% of women and upward of 7 million women in the U.S. alone." It is the number one reason women in their 20s and early 30s experience fertility issues, she says, so it's really a wonder we don't talk about PCOS as much as we talk about periods, birth control, and other reproductive matters.

For as widespread and life-altering as PCOS can be, it is not entirely understood by science—at least not yet. "It is a complex syndrome, and I think one that is gaining more and more traction," says Sara Twogood, MD, an ob-gyn at USC.

To help those of us who didn't attend med school get up to speed about PCOS, we consulted three specialists who know the syndrome best: McCulloch, Twogood, and Joshua J. Berger, MD, medical director of the CHA Fertility Center in Los Angeles. If you have PCOS, think you might have it, or simply want to know more, keep reading.

Next, don't miss 12 secretly sugary foods that are sabotaging your diet.

This post was originally published on September 19, 2016.

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