Polycystic ovarian syndrome is an endocrine disorder that affects about one in 10 women. While it gets its name from the fact that many affected women have enlarged ovarian follicles, this syndrome can cause other symptoms including irregular menstruation, excessive sweating, acne, obesity and excess body hair. While your doctor has likely explained your diagnosis and how to best manage it, explaining this disorder to family and friends who don’t live with it on a daily basis can pose a significant challenge. By explaining what the diagnosis means, discussing how your individual symptoms affect you, discussing how you manage the syndrome and giving your friends and family time to ask questions, you can help ensure that the people who matter most in your life understand the endocrine disorder you live with.
First, Explain What PCOS is
Chances are that you’ve had several conversations with your doctor about your diagnosis, and you’ve also had time to process it. Because a diagnosis like this one can feel all consuming, it’s easy to forget that many people haven’t even heard of polycystic ovarian syndrome. Therefore, it can be helpful to start the conversation by defining what the diagnosis means.
Because different women tend to struggle more with some polycystic ovarian syndrome symptoms than others, it can be helpful to explain some of the common symptoms including insulin resistance, high androgens, excess hair growth, acne and difficulty maintaining a healthy weight. That way, your loved ones will have a general idea of what the syndrome entails before you start telling them how polycystic ovarian syndrome specifically affects you.
Explain What Symptoms You Deal With
As noted above, different women with this syndrome will experience it in slightly different ways. This is a helpful thing to tell your loved ones so they can understand that you may not experience every single symptom.
However, your family and friends will be able to better understand your diagnosis if you tell them how your symptoms affect you. Maybe your self-esteem suffers because of acne. Maybe you’re at a healthy weight, but you have to work extremely hard to not gain weight. Maybe you experience increased fatigue. Conveying how the syndrome impacts you both physically and emotionally can help give your loved ones insight into what it’s like to struggle with polycystic ovarian syndrome.
If certain symptoms are too personal to talk about, you don’t need to feel as though you should tell your loved ones every single way this syndrome impacts your life; if you aren’t comfortable discussing every aspect of the syndrome, even giving your loved ones a general idea of how it impacts you can be helpful.
Discuss How Your Syndrome is Managed
Often, once your loved ones know you have a diagnosis, they will want to know what you are doing to treat it. If you take metformin, tell your family and friends that this medication helps to improve insulin sensitivity and reduce your risk of developing diabetes. If you’re planning on adopting a healthier diet and exercise routine, you can explain that this can help reduce your symptoms.
If your family and friends are concerned about your health after hearing about your polycystic ovarian syndrome diagnosis, they may be relieved to hear that you have a clear plan for management ahead.
Allow Your Loved Ones to Ask Questions
While you likely understand your diagnosis well, for someone unfamiliar with polycystic ovarian syndrome, hearing so much new information can be overwhelming. Be patient with your loved ones, as they may have questions to ask. Asking questions means that they care and that they are doing their best to understand your diagnosis.
Talking to your loved ones about your polycystic ovarian syndrome may seem like a challenge. It can be helpful to plan ahead to make sure you can clearly explain your diagnosis and how it affects you. A support system is a valuable part of managing your symptoms, and the best support system is made up of people who both care about you and are knowledgeable about polycystic ovarian syndrome. The conversation might be difficult at first, but it’s well worth the effort.