20% trust Instagram influencers for healthcare advice (Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is often diagnosed late or just not at all.

A new study has found that PCOS is one of the most common causes of female infertility (though the implications of PCOS aren’t this serious for everyone and it can be managed with treatment in most cases).

However, many people are going undiagnosed with 49% of diagnoses happening when someone is trying (and struggling) to conceive, according to the research conducted by Fertility Family.

This means people who aren’t trying to conceive are potentially missing out getting on a diagnosis, even though the NHS estimate 1 in 10 women in the UK are affected by the condition.

Part of the problem is down to misinformation, as 54% of those who think they could need advice about PCOS won’t see a healthcare professional, as found by the new study.

Instead, they rely on the internet to get a diagnosis, which comes with its pitfalls in the age of everyone being an ‘expert’ on social media.

30% are looking to online forums for help, while 20% trust Instagram influencers and 18% seek information on Facebook groups.

Though common, PCOS is still seen as a taboo topic to discuss which could also be a reason as to why people are seeking out information on social media instead of through a healthcare professional.

The long-term implications of this, as well as physical, can be mental too as a separate study found 40% of teenage girls who have PCOS suffer with depression.

Going undiagnosed isn’t serving women, so Himanshu Borase, Fertility Specialist and Consultant Gynaecologist at Hertsfertility tries to ’empower’ patients.

‘One third of the people who I see at fertility clinics suffer from PCOS and we always try our best to educate and empower them.

‘There is a great need for more understanding of the options available and a more open conversation around fertility.’

PCOS symptoms, which usually emerge in teenage years or in the early 20s, can include:

  • Irregular periods or no periods at all
  • Difficulty getting pregnant as a result of irregular ovulation or failure to ovulate
  • Excessive hair growth (hirsutism) – usually on the face, chest, back or buttocks
  • Weight gain
  • Thinning hair
  • Oily skin or acne
  • Depression

Family Fertility, who ran the study to get people talking about their health more, said: ‘Openly discussing personal issues such as PCOS and infertility can be difficult, but the more we encourage these conversations, the more open women will become about fertility issues and the need for further education.’


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