A National Institutes of Health (NIH) panel has suggested that PCOS, or polycystic ovarian syndrome, get a new name. They say the name causes confusion because polycystic ovaries aren't required to be diagnosed with the condition, and in fact, having polycystic ovaries alone isn't enough to get a diagnosis either.
They also say that the PCOS name puts too much focus on the ovarian aspect of the syndrome, when PCOS affects multiple systems of the body, from skin problems, to weight gain and diabetes, to cardiovascular disease.
Many women struggle with PCOS for years before ever receiving a diagnosis. But will a new name really help that?
Although I had already been diagnosed, I will never forget going to see a former gynecologist of mine for the first time. I had moved to a new town, needed a new GYN, and she was highly recommended. As we went over my history, I mentioned I had PCOS.
"No you don't," she said.
"Yes, I do... ?" I replied, slowly and carefully, as at that point I was unsure of how she could deny a diagnosis that I knew I had!
Then she said, "You can't have PCOS because you're not overweight. You don't look like you have PCOS."
It's true that many women with PCOS struggle with weight problems, but not all women with PCOS are obese. Yet my former GYN was convinced I couldn't have the condition (before she saw the relevant blood work and ultrasounds to prove it) just because I wasn't overweight. A new name wouldn't have prevented her reaction.
I don't have an opinion yet on whether a new name would be good, bad, or neutral for the condition. What I do know is that more than we need a new name, we need more doctor and patient education on the syndrome. And we need more research to understand why the condition presents this way in some women and another way in others.
More on PCOS:
- Quiz: Do You Have PCOS Symptoms?
- PCOS Symptoms and Treatment
- Treatment with Metformin for PCOS
- Can a PCOS Diet Help You Get Pregnant?
- Anovulation: When You Don't Ovulate
- What Is an Irregular Period?
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