PCOS brings its own uncomfortable symptoms and risks. People who are diagnosed with it have different issues and deal with them in varying ways as we are not all the same. Despite this, the diagnosis is still the one thing we do have in common.
What I wanted to know is if people (like myself) with this syndrome are more at risk for having a rough time with a COVID-19 infection. I did some research on it and in this post I will be sharing with you what I found out!
PCOS symptoms and risks
Most people already know about PCOS but it is never a bad thing to have a refresher on it. So, here goes…
PCOS is a hormonal condition that involves the ovaries producing too high of an androgen level. It is said to effect up to 12% of females that are of the reproductive age in the US and up to 20% globally.
Here are the common symptoms of it:
- Excess hair (hirsutism). This can occur all over the body and face.
- Acne and/or oily skin.
- Cysts on ovaries and/or enlarged ovaries.
- Period issues: Missed, too frequent, abnormally heavy, too light, too painful etc.
- Hair issues: Balding, scalp greasiness and thinning.
- Weight issues- Weight gain, difficulty losing weight and gaining weight in the abdominal section.
- Depression and/or anxiety.
Not everyone experiences all of these symptoms. Some people only find out they have PCOS when they are having difficulty getting pregnant. Doctors usually diagnose it based on having at least two symptoms though.
Due to the mechanism of PCOS, there are certain things that people with it are at risk for. They are as follows:
- Type 2 diabetes.
- High blood pressure.
- High bad cholesterol.
- Heart disease.
- Endometrial cancer.
- Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease.
- Sleep apnea.
Because of the symptoms and risks, it is important for people with the diagnosis to consult with their doctor to get help managing it. The treatments for it include the following:
- Healthy diet changes and consistent exercise- These two things are just important in general.
- Birth control- These can help balance hormones to manage the symptoms. Combination pills are considered to be the best option.
- Acne treatments- There are many types of products that may help control acne. The acne.org regimen is an example a treatment plan to follow for clearer skin.
- Metformin- This can help correct insulin resistance that one with PCOS may have. It has also shown to help with ovulation, reduce androgen levels and help with weight loss.
- Spironolactone- It reduces androgen levels which in turn may help control acne, oiliness and hirsutism.
- Fertility medications.
- Hair growth treatments.
PCOS and COVID-19
So, we are aware of the most known risks when it comes to having PCOS. Does it also put us at risk for having a rougher time than average with COVID-19?
First, lets look at the well-established risk factors for severe COVID-19. There are several of them and they include the following:
- High blood pressure
- Heart disease
- Advanced age
- Kidney disease
- Mental health conditions
- Sleep apnea
- Low vitamin D levels
- Autoimmune conditions
- Usage of corticosteroids
If you refer back to the lists of symptoms and risks that come with PCOS- you can find several of them on the above list. These include insulin resistance, diabetes, depression/anxiety, excess weight, high blood pressure, heart disease, fatty liver disease and sleep apnea. People with PCOS also tend to have low levels of vitamin D in their bodies which has been shown to correlate with bad COVID-19 outcomes.
It has also been shown that even if you take the associated conditions out of the equation, PCOS still puts people at a higher risk of having a severe infection than people without it. Medical professionals think that it may be due to the condition causing inflammation in the body and also that it is actually an autoimmune condition- both things can make COVID-19 worse.
From all of this, we can come to the conclusion that PCOS may indeed be a risk factor for getting a severe bout of COVID-19. It is important to note that we are all different so it is not like every person with the hormonal condition will end up being hospitalized.
What to do about it
It is important to stay safe from COVID-19- period. Regardless of whether you have PCOS. There are a couple extra layers of mitigation that people with the condition should probably make sure and follow (if applicable) though.
Here is a reminder of things to do to stay safe as a person with or without PCOS:
- Clean up your diet- Eating foods with very little nutrients does not do a body good. You don’t need to eat perfectly- just make some healthy choices regularly.
- Lose weight- If you are carrying a good amount of excess weight, it is probably a good idea to drop some of it. This is great for your health in general.
- Get insulin resistance under control- Make sure to manage this if you do have it.
- Exercise- Consistent exercise helps your body stay healthy and strong. A healthy body equals the ability to fight off infections better (in a lot of cases that is). Take a peak at some of my workout reviews if you are looking for a new one to try. My most recent review is of a Fitness Blender workout.
- Getting enough sleep- Sleep is important for a healthy immune system as well as general health. It is recommended to get in eight hours of sleep each night.
- Wear a KN95 or N95 mask (the ones linked from Wellbefore are awesome!)- If you are still wearing masks-you may be one of very few people to do so. Because of this, it is important to wear a well-fitted mask that will protect you.
- Wash your hands regularly- This is something you should have been doing before the pandemic. COVID-19 lasts on the skin for up to nine hours, so handwashing really does have its place.
- Cleaning and disinfecting surface areas- While surface transmission is rare-it is still a good idea to do this just in case. I personally love hydrogen peroxide disinfecting wipes as an alternative to bleach.
- Socially distance if possible- If you really want to avoid getting COVID-19, keeping your distance from people and staying out of packed areas are ways to do that.
- Work on your mental health- This part of our health is really important. If we are struggling mentally, we are at risk for struggling physically. Seek help from a professional if necessary.
What I am doing about it
I dealt with long-COVID for a year. This involved a bunch of strange symptoms that plagued me everyday. It was awful. Because of that and the fact that I may be at a higher risk for severe COVID-19 due to PCOS- I am still being VERY careful.
Some say that I am living in fear and seem crazy but I just do not want this virus. I unfortunately ended up testing positive for it on Christmas though (my husband brought it in). I am hoping my long-COVID symptoms don’t come back.
Here are the things I am doing to stay safe from the virus:
- Wearing masks and goggles- I rarely go anywhere but I still wear either a KN95 or N95 mask and goggles if I am anywhere outside of the house-even just going to the mailbox.
- Washing my hands regularly- I have always done this but I do it even more now. My hands are usually extremely dry which kind of stinks though. I wash them after touching mail and groceries in addition to all of the other times I was them.
- Instacart usage- I get all of our groceries delivered so that we don’t have to go into packed stores where people aren’t wearing masks and coughing everywhere.
- Spraying and wiping down groceries- I disinfect groceries before putting them away because who knows what is on them.
- Clean and disinfect high-touch surfaces around the house- I have done this since I started doing daycare in my home and will continue to do so.
- Be healthy- I do this by making healthy food choices, sleeping for eight hours a night and exercising consistently.
Okay, I admit that I am obsessive about keeping the COVID-19 away. I am just dealing with some medical PTSD and I don’t quite understand how everyone else can just be moving on from the pandemic as they seem to be.
So, there you have it
PCOS may indeed bring a higher risk of contracting a severe case of COVID-19. Luckily, if one applies the mitigation strategies that have already been identified- they can either avoid it or get less of a viral load.
Do you have PCOS and have had COVID-19? How did you fare?
Thanks for reading!
Here are some good sources to look at-
Affiliate disclaimer- I am part of an affiliate program. This means that I may receive a commission from any clicks and purchases you make.
Medical disclaimer- I am not a medical professional so what I put in this post is not a substitute for medical advice. I am merely relaying information I have read. It is important to check with your doctor before doing something that may effect your health. Your health is your own and I am not liable for any consequences you may get from your choices.
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