If you have PCOS, you need to be screened for these disorders


If you're one of the estimated 7 million US women who have polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), then you may be at higher risk for certain mental health disorders, according to a recent study out of the Neuroscience and Mental Health Research Institute at Cardiff University.

The study, presented at the Society for Endocrinology annual conference in England, highlights the connection between the symptoms associated with PCOS and the psychological and emotional distress those symptoms can cause.

Related: Call your doctor if you notice these signs

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10 signs you need to call your gyno, stat
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10 signs you need to call your gyno, stat
1. You’re bleeding and it’s not that time of the month yet.

Spotting in between periods is normal for many women. It’s a common side effect of the Pill. But if you’re bleeding heavily or it continues for a few days, it’s a good idea to check in with your gyno. Spotting can be a sign of a pelvic infection, cysts, fibroids, polyps, or in rarer cases, gynecological cancer. It’s also common during pregnancy and usually not a big deal—but your doctor will want to know about it to make sure it’s not a worst case scenario: a sign of miscarriage or an ectopic pregnancy.

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2. Your period is unbearably painful.

Everyone’s cramps are different, and it’s normal for many women to feel some pain. But your cramps shouldn’t leave you feeling incapacitated. If they do, it can be a sign of a bigger problem. If you’ve had bad cramps your whole life, chances are it’s less clinically significant. If they start later in life, or the pain worsens or changes over time, that’s more concerning—it could mean you’ve developed a condition (such as a benign tumor called a fibroid) that’s causing your discomfort. Even if there isn’t a serious issue, you’ll be glad you went to see your doc—there’s no reason you need to suffer through debilitating pain once a month.

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3. Sex hurts, but not in a good way.

Pain during intercourse is actually pretty common, and most of the time, can be fixed by changing positions or lubing up. If it’s not, it may be a sign something’s going on internally. Deep pain can mean endometriosis, and a sudden, sharp pain could be a ruptured ovarian cyst. Fibroids or cervicitis, inflammation of the cervix caused by an STI or other infection (like yeast), can also make sex painful. If the pain is more of a burning or stabbing around the opening of the vagina, it could signal a condition called vulvodynia; pain with insertion (or inability to insert anything into the vagina) may be a condition called vaginismus, which causes involuntary muscle spasms. Pelvic inflammatory disease may also cause painful sex, but many times is symptomless.

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4. Your vagina is really dry.

Vaginal dryness during sex—aka, not being able to get wet—may mean you haven’t had the right amount of foreplay, Ross notes. More foreplay, plus using lube, may do the trick. If not, or if dryness is a daily problem, your ob/gyn can help you figure out what’s causing it. Some hormonal changes (like those that happen during menopause) can cause dryness, as can a few chronic health conditions and dermatological problems.

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5. You notice a funky smell down there.

Regular discharge is mostly odorless. If you notice a slight change in the way your vagina or discharge smells, that’s totally normal. What’s not normal is a sudden foul or fishy odor, especially if it’s accompanied by a change in discharge color, irritation, or itchiness. That’s a good indicator of an infection like bacterial vaginosis, trichomoniasis (a common STI), or a yeast infection.

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6. Your period just stopped showing up.

“Halting or preventing ovulation can occur through hormonal imbalance, physical or emotional stress, illness, and pregnancy,” Ross notes. While it could also just be a side effect of the Pill or other medications, lack of period can also be a sign of an ovulatory disorder like PCOS or in rare cases, premature ovarian failure (which leads to early menopause).

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7. You experience vaginal swelling, itching, and/or pain after sex.

If the pain only lasts for about 36 hours, you might just be allergic to latex. “Some women have a latex allergy, which can cause vaginal swelling, itching, and pain during and up to 36 hours after sex,” Ross says. Most condoms are made of latex, so if you experience these unwelcomed post-coital symptoms, you might be having a reaction. “If you have a latex allergy you can use the polyurethane condom as an alternative and avoid this allergic painful reaction.” If these symptoms last longer than a day or two, or don’t go away after switching condoms, seeing your doc will help you figure out if an underlying problem, like a vaginal infection, is to blame.

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8. You have trouble getting aroused or orgasming.

Of course, this isn’t a life-threatening problem, but it can stop you from being intimate with your partner and experiencing pleasure. Ross says you should bring any sexual concerns to your gyno. “We think we’re all supposed to figure it out,” she says. But it’s OK to ask for help in working through intimacy problems, or to learn how to get more comfortable with your body. “We all have to learn about sex and orgasms. It’s a lifelong process, and as you master your sexual appetite, it gets better and better,” Ross says. And rest assured, you’re not the only one. “Up to 20 percent of women don’t get orgasms,” Ross says. The Mayo Clinic notes that most women can’t achieve orgasm through vaginal penetration alone. Your ob/gyn can help diagnose and treat any underlying conditions that may be keeping you from reaching the big O.

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9. You turn into a monstrously evil twin of yourself right before your period.

Premenstrual dysmorphic disorder is a form of severe PMS marked by extreme mood swings—anger, irritability, decreased interest in activities—and physical symptoms like horrible cramps, breast tenderness, bloating, and lethargy. There are options for treating it, such as supplements, diuretics (to manage bloating), and light therapy (for the mood-related symptoms), and your ob/gyn can help you find the best method for you.

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10. You’re not into your current method of contraception.

If your birth control comes with unsavory side effects or if you always forget to take it, your ob/gyn can talk through all of your options. With so many different methods of contraception out there, there’s no reason to be unhappy with the method you use. If you’re really not feelin’ your current pill or IUD or whatever else you use, it’s time to start chatting with your doc about trying something new.

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PCOS is characterized by, among other things, symptoms of elevated male hormone levels, such as excess facial hair, excess body hair, hair loss on the scalp, and acne. Although PCOS also tends to cause irregular periods, it often escapes diagnosis until a woman has trouble getting pregnant, which alone can be a major source of stress and trauma for women. Find out the eight silent signs you may have PCOS.

While previous studies suggested a link between PCOS and poor mental health, they were small and didn't control for other factors that may have impacted mental health besides PCOS. The researchers from Cardiff University dug deeper by analyzing data extracted from an existing study involving over 17,000 women who had been diagnosed with PCOS. The study followed the women for a minimum of six months following diagnosis of PCOS and compared them with a control group of women without PCOS. What the researchers found was that women with PCOS were more likely to be diagnosed with depression, anxiety, and bipolar disorder.

Related:

10 PHOTOS
Countries with the greatest burden of disease for mental and behavioral disorders: WHO
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Countries with the greatest burden of disease for mental and behavioral disorders: WHO

10. Germany

City center of Munich, Germany

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9. Nigeria

As seen from a plane, the aerial view of Lagos, Nigeria looks like a patchwork quilt of colored roofs, sand, grass and streets.

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8. Bangladesh

The sun is setting over the smoggy city Dhaka

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7. Pakistan

Lahore is the capital of the Pakistani province of Punjab and the second largest city in Pakistan after Karachi with a population of some 7 million people.

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6. Indonesia

Panorama of Jakarta Skyline with blue sky and no traffic. BNI46 Building from left to right

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5. Brazil

A view from Santa Teresa in the hills of Rio de Janeiro as The iconic Cristo Redentor, Christ the Redeemer statue appears out of the clouds while lit up at night time atop the mountain Corcovado. In the foreground is the Favela Morro da Coroa. 

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4. Russia

Morning over the Moscow Kremlin in the sun

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3. United States of America

Crowd of Times Square in a rainy night, New York, USA

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2. India

Local indian people shoping at street market, Mumbai, India.

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1. China

Crowd of people along The Bund in Shanghai

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Armed with the knowledge that high levels of testosterone during pregnancy increase the risk of ADHD and autism, the researchers also followed the women who became pregnant, along with their children, and found that children born to mothers with PCOS were at greater risk of developing ADHD and autism spectrum disorders.

Based on these findings, lead study author Dr. Aled Rees suggest that women with PCOS be screened for mental health disorders so they can be diagnosed and start treatment as soon as possible, which will ultimately improve their quality of life. In addition, their children should be monitored for signs of ADHD and autism spectrum disorders.

Next, learn the 12 things every woman needs to know about PCOS.

The post If You Have PCOS, You Need to be Screened for These Disorders appeared first on Reader's Digest.

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