Receiving the best care when living with PCOS is what I want for you. You are most probably tired of PCOS, so why not improving the care you receive.
Here are a few action items you can do to for that:
1. Ask questions
Knowledge is power! Many times, if we don’t ask, we won’t learn. That is why, I encourage you to ask questions regarding your diagnosis, your treatment options, and your continuous plan of monitoring.
Be somewhat skeptical of treatment options and ask for the research evidence to be explained in a language that you understand.
If this is your learning/understanding style, take notes of what you learn.
2. Ask to be referred to a reproductive endocrinologist
PCOS is an endocrinological condition (not just a reproductive – as we discussed in article 1).
It is a good idea to be referred to the right specialist(s).
You may need to see more than one medical specialist depending on your PCOS type and symptoms.
3. Get referral to a PCOS or endocrinology-specialized RD
Lifestyle and nutrition are what help PCOS on the long run!
Evidence keeps telling us that a registered dietitian who understands PCOS can make a huge difference in their clients’ lives in educating, counseling, and coaching them through food and lifestyle to improve their health and reduce if not get rid of the undesirable symptoms.
I am available for that!
4. Ask for your treatment options (beyond the pill)
Explore more options for your care. Ask questions and try things out. Some medications/recommendations may work for some women, but not all.
When you see your doctors, your RD, and other health professionals, ask them: Is that my only option at this time? What other options do I have?
Note: the birth control pill can be your best option at the moment.
5. Expand your care (beyond physical symptoms)
Many treatments for PCOS focus on treating physical symptoms, which is important. But what about actual causes? Or what about the pains that are not physical? (i.e. mental, emotional, motivational, etc.).
If you could meet experts, cover treatment costs, or if you have more needs, do not hesitate to expand your care beyond a family doctor or a Gynecologist or an endocrinologist. For example, I suggest seeing (if needed, and able to): a registered dietitian, a mental health counsellor or a psychotherapist, an exercise specialist, a dermatologist, and an esthetician.
6. Stay away from fat-phobic healthcare providers
How can you spot them? Their only or main focus is weight loss and extreme diets. They do not give you further advice.
They depend on the scale to measure your “progress”.
It is your right to ask not to be weighed or to be weighed blindly if you prefer.
You weight gain (if it is there) is a symptom of PCOS. Weight is not a behaviour and weight loss is not an ultimate cure.
7. Stay away from the non-evidence-based “professionals”/influencers
With all their “good intentions”, they may recommend unnecessary, unknown, or expensive treatments for you or many restrictions in your diet. Those treatments may not be necessary or may cause harm.
8. Educate others - Destigmatize PCOS
About 10% of women live with the condition. If you bring up your story as much as you are comfortable with, you may be able to reduce stigma around PCOS and its symptoms and educate people who don’t know about it!
You may want to write on the internet, join a group, use social media, donate to advocacy groups, and follow PCOS professionals.
9. Advocate for more research and care for women with PCOS
PCOS is an under-researched condition. This is the work beyond your circle, but why not if you can? Raise your voice and the voices of other cysters to have more research and let the “under-researched condition” label a thing of the past!
Because you deserve the best care!
Because you can make it available if it is not!
PCOS has got some attention in the last few years. We now have better research evidence on PCOS diagnosis and treatment and a better understanding of symptoms and the mind and body connection. There is still a lot needed in the PCOS research and treatment options. We always advocate for better research evidence and holistic care for women in Canada and the world.
Together, we can be agents of change!
Remember! You are an expert of PCOS from your experience that is unique as you!
Your Partner in PCOS care, Noura