38% of Lesbians Have PCOS: Be Aware of the Symptoms

by Dr. Andrea Lee

Are you a lesbian and suffering from irregular periods, or unexplained weight gain? You may have Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS).

Studies have shown that homosexual women are twice as likely as heterosexual women to develop Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) [1], the most common endocrine disorder amongst pre-menopausal women.

PCOS is often misdiagnosed. Many women waste years undergoing treatment for the wrong diagnosis, or simply wondering, “What is wrong with me?”

PCOS was cited by Reader’s Digest in the article “10 Diseases Doctors Miss Most” as one of the most commonly misdiagnosed diseases, often being mistaken for Cushing’s syndrome or Menopause.

It’s important to know the symptoms and to realize they can vary drastically from woman to woman. Not all women experience all of these symptoms.

  • Absent or irregular periods
  • Fatigue and lack of mental alertness
  • Acne
  • Skin Tags
  • Brown patches on the skin
  • Excess hair growth in unwanted places like the chin, chest, arms and abdomen
  • Hair loss and bald spots
  • Unexplained weight gain
  • Anxiety and depression
  • Thyroid problems
  • High cholesterol
  • Infertility

PCOS wreaks havoc on hormones: excessive amounts of insulin stimulate the ovaries to produce large amounts of testosterone. The underlying cause of PCOS is insulin resistance, a condition that can be reversed with diet and lifestyle changes.

Long term, PCOS can lead to serious conditions like diabetes, heart disease, liver disease, and emotional and mental disorders.

If you feel you may be suffering from PCOS, take the PCOS online self-test. You can also post a question on my “Ask Dr. Andrea” column at http://pcos.insulitelabs.com/blog/index.php/ask-a-doctor/.

(1) Prevalence of polycystic ovaries and polycystic ovary syndrome in lesbian women compared with heterosexual women. – Agrawal R, Sharma S, Bekir J, Conway G, Bailey J, Balen AH, Prelevic G., Fertil Steril. 2004 Nov;82(5):1352-7.


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