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PCOS stands for PolyCystic Ovarian Syndrome otherwise known as Stein Leventhal syndrome. World Health Organisation asserts that PCOS is the cause of female infertility in about 116 million people as of 2012, worldwide, with a prevalence ranging between 2.2% to 26%.

Infertility is defined by WHO as the inability of a couple to achieve pregnancy after at least 12months of regular and unprotected sexual intercourse.

In a gynaecological clinic one day, I saw an astonishingly beautiful fair lady having all the descriptive adjectives to qualify an endowed female looking worried and shy.

Followed closely by a gentleman who wanted to look strong for his wife, so beamed with smiles as he entered the consulting room.

The couple was invited to sit down by my senior colleague. Their issue was that they’ve been married for more 5yrs without a child although they don’t use contraceptives.

She added that she joined the gym to control her weight and coupled with weight loss pills she took regularly because she was gaining weight uncontrollably.

Ridiculed and stigmatised by onlookers anytime she walked into public places like banks, malls and even church because she has the male pattern of facial hair growth; a moustache, goatee, and a streak of soul patch which she controlled by shaving.

All these happenings plunged her into deflated confidence levels and depression. She found solace in the emotional support of her husband, her biological parents, and siblings.

The husband was not spared but felt the full brunt of his wife’s predicament because his mum asked for grandchildren. She recommended traditional remedies which she believed were fertility-enhancing herbs.

His mother suggested another lady to him to have a child or two with when the herbs were not helping. The lady wailingly said, “doctor please save me from shame”. I immediately felt a meltdown.

I know this storyline sounds familiar. You may have seen a lady who has a goatee and maybe laughed. September of every is the month set apart to address PCOS to raise awareness. Our topic for this week is PCOS.

What is PCOS

PCOS is a multisystemic health condition that may affect the overall health and appearance of a female. Prominently presenting with irregular menses, infertility, unintentional weight gain, hirsutism, etc.

It is one of the most common causes of correctable female infertility. 1 in 10 females has PCOS. It is a disease that features in the childbearing age of a female. 

Not all facial hair is PCOS.

Male pattern hair formation in a female is known as hirsutism. The male pattern of hair formation is facial hair, hairs on the chest, the buttock area, and on the limbs.

It has many causes. Not all cases of female facial hair is PCOS. In fact, in most cases, there is no identifiable medical cause. Some run in families. PCOS is one of the causes but associated with the above symptoms.

Rarely, some ovarian tumours feature as the culprit. If you have this facial hair do make a date with a gynaecologist.

Thankfully, there is a remedy to hirsutism. If the underlying cause is known then the hirsutism will be checked after tackling the offending culprit.

Even with those ones without identifiable cause professionals and authorities can manage it to improve her appearance and build up self-confidence with creams. It is the stigma associated with it that is worrying.

I crave your indulgence dear reader that you support people with these issues. Infertility issues together with stigma-induced emotional turmoil are not easy to bear.

Females with PCOS can have a child on their own.

PCOS is not an infertility sentencing disease. Infertility associated with PCOS can be managed with drugs to influence fertility.

Data has it that couples with such health problems have had more than 1 child after regular treatment by a gynaecologist. It is a totally correctable disease.

Each and every symptom can be managed. Do feel free to see a gynaecologist if you have any of the above for regular monitoring.

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Michael Baah Biney is a Final year Medical Student of the University For Development Studies (UDS). He is a Member of curious minds Ghana and activ8 and a Fellow at African Youth Center for Health (AYCH). You can reach Biney on mikebiney77@gmail.com and on social media platforms (@_papabiney on Twitter & Instagram)