PCOS or polycystic ovarian syndrome can cause your hormones to go out of whack, which can hamper your sex life! Here’s how PCOS affects your sex life and what you can do about it.
Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome or PCOS is the most common endocrine disorder seen in young women. It is characterised by irregular periods and distressing symptoms of excess male hormones leading to acne, excess facial hair growth, and loss of hair from the scalp. Apart from playing havoc with your hormones, PCOS also causes long-term health disorders like diabetes and high cholesterol. All these factors together cause stress, anxiety, and other mental health issues like depression leading to a poor quality of life. PCOS can affect your sex life as well!
How does PCOS affect your sex life?
Sexual function is influenced by physical, biological and social factors. It forms an important part of every woman’s life with different sexual expectations across varied age-groups.
1. Hormonal imbalance
To start with, there is a definite hormonal imbalance, especially the estrogens (female hormones) and the androgens (male hormones). Though the relationship between male hormones and female sexuality is still under research, elevated male hormones in PCOS may be responsible for asserting a negative effect on the sexual desire and response leading to impaired sexual satisfaction, found a study published in Reproductive Biomed online.
2. Being overweight or obese
Increased androgens in PCOS women accompanied with Insulin resistance, which is a Prediabetic condition, lead to an unhealthy body fat distribution (apple-shaped body), contributing to obesity – a serious problem seen in almost 80 percent of PCOS women. It can also trigger mental health issues. Recent Guidelines for medical professionals mention that women struggling with PCOS experience a 5-fold increase in anxiety and suffer from thrice the incidence of depression. All of these factors combined can impact your sex life as well!
3. Lack of orgasm
Multiple studies have observed that sexual arousal, lubrication and orgasm is compromised amongst PCOS women. A report suggests that these women desire equivalent sexual satisfaction as non-PCOS women, accomplishing their sexual goals doesn’t come so easy! A recent 2021 study found impaired sexual function in young women who had anovulatory cycles, suggesting a link between PCOS and sexual health, as per the Journal of Sex Medicine.
4. Emotional distress
Due to both sexual and emotional derangements, PCOS also affects the relationship equation between most couples. Many PCOS women carrying the burden of infertility also report low sexual desire and decreased sexual satisfaction secondary to the stigma associated with infertility. Delayed diagnosis, lack of awareness along with societal and cultural pressure pushes these women to the brink of emotional distress.
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How can you have a healthy sex life with PCOS?
If you have PCOS and don’t have a healthy sex life, fret not! Sexual function can be restored amongst PCOS women with the following interventions.
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1. Exercise and weight loss have been proven beyond doubt to improve sexual function in PCOS women. Exercise helps release ‘happy hormones’ and encourages one to achieve healthy body goals.
2. Cosmetic and nutritionist support for a healthy diet works wonders!
3. Consulting your gynaecologist about the correct use of oral contraceptive pills can help reduce acne and facial hair besides bringing in normal periods.
4. It is important to remember that your physical appearance is only a tiny part of your whole personality and doesn’t really define you! Focus on creating a realistic healthy schedule with the right exercise and diet to achieve your goals.
5. Communicate with your partner about your challenges and embrace a combined approach to navigate through your sexual fantasies.
6. If you feel the need, counselling sessions with the psychotherapist can help one conquer negative body image issues and develop coping strategies to combat negative emotions.
It is important to remember that PCOS and its consequences can be well controlled with the correct guidance from your gynaecologist.