PCOS is a complex hormonal condition that affects women. It can cause a range of symptoms, including irregular periods, acne, excess hair growth, and weight gain. Intersex conditions are variations in genitalia, hormone levels, and chromosomes.
People with intersex variation often face stigma and discrimination. Understanding their needs and experiences can help create a more compassionate healthcare system.
What is PCOS?
Symptoms of PCOS include irregular periods, excess hair growth or acne, and weight gain. The condition is caused by a disruption of hormones, like insulin and androgens. The cause of PCOS is unknown, but genetics and environmental factors may play a role.
Girls with PCOS have ovaries that produce the female hormones estrogen and progesterone, and they also make a small amount of male hormones called androgens. The ovaries produce androgens to prepare the body for ovulation, when an egg is released. The androgens also cause the uterus to grow and develop cysts.
Women with PCOS have a thicker, harder womb lining and an abnormally high level of male hormones. This causes the uterus to have more tissue, which can lead to infertility or problems with pregnancy. PCOS can also affect a woman’s vagina, making it hard to get pregnant or have a child.
Intersex people have XX chromosomes and genitals that look more like those of men. They are sometimes called hermaphrodites or pseudohermaphrodites. People who were born intersex often had surgery to change their genitals and were raised as the gender expected for that sex. These people were called MtF (male-to-female) or FtM (female-to-male). Today, it is more common to identify as nonbinary.
What are the symptoms of PCOS?
While the exact causes of PCOS aren’t fully understood, there is evidence that genetics plays a role. Long-term low-grade inflammation may also play a part, as it is thought to cause the ovaries to produce too many androgens (male hormones). Irregular menstrual cycles and excess hair growth are common symptoms of the condition. In some cases, people with PCOS might experience infertility.
Some people with PCOS might not have any noticeable symptoms, and they may only be diagnosed if they experience problems like difficulty getting pregnant or if they have signs of endometriosis (such as thickening of the lining of the uterus). Doctors usually diagnose PCOS by taking a patient’s history and running tests such as blood, ultrasound and hormonal tests. They will also look for polycystic ovaries on an ultrasound scan.
Both PCOS and intersex conditions can impact a person’s mental health. People with these conditions may feel anxiety or stress related to their physical appearance or hormonal imbalances, and this can lead to a negative body image and self-esteem. It is important for individuals to seek out supportive healthcare providers and connect with community support groups.
Some people with PCOS and intersex conditions might feel discriminated against or have a difficult time accessing healthcare. This is because some healthcare providers might not be familiar with these conditions or their unique needs. It is important for people with these conditions to advocate for themselves, and to seek out providers who are knowledgeable about and sensitive to their needs.
What is the treatment for PCOS?
The cause of PCOS isn’t known, but it’s thought that excess insulin affects a woman’s ability to ovulate. Insulin is a hormone that controls blood sugar, but too much can cause the ovaries to produce too many male hormones. These hormones interfere with the development of eggs and the normal release of one egg each month (ovulation).
Women with PCOS may have irregular periods, and they might have extra body hair or acne. They are also at risk of developing type 2 diabetes and heart disease. It’s important for them to get treatment for these conditions and to keep a close eye on their weight, as being overweight can contribute to the condition.
Several treatments can help treat the symptoms of PCOS, including diet and exercise, medications, and surgery. A doctor might recommend a medicine called metformin, which can lower insulin levels and can make the ovaries ovulate regularly. Other medicines might be used to stimulate ovulation, such as clomiphene or the breast cancer drug letrozole. In some cases, a doctor might perform a procedure called ovarian drilling, which involves making a small cut in the belly and using a tool to poke into an ovary and wreck it.
Having PCOS can be frustrating, but there’s hope. Treatment can ease the symptoms and lower the risk of other health problems. It’s important to talk to your doctor about the best treatment for you.
What is the treatment for intersex conditions?
Many intersex people experience physical and psychological distress because of their bodies. They are often treated by medical professionals who may not be sensitive to their feelings or who do not understand the differences between sex identities. They may be subjected to unnecessary and risky surgeries that can cause permanent harm. These surgeries can lead to infertility, loss of sensation, and chronic pain. They can also result in a loss of gender identity. These procedures are typically performed on infants who cannot consent to them. They are subjected to these procedures for reasons that are unfounded and unethical.
These medical practices are based on assumptions that are rooted in cultural and social normativity, the belief that intersex individuals are a threat to society, and a fear of the atypical body. This has led to a cycle of violence where intersex people are lied to, their rights violated, and they are subjected to risky surgical procedures that can cause significant long-term harm.
People who are intersex have chromosomes that are normally associated with either male or female, but they have reproductive organs and genitals that look different from the typical ones. They may have a combination of chromosomes or they can have hermaphroditis. This is a medical condition called Differences in Sexual Development or DSD. It is not a disease or a disorder and it does not require treatment or surgery.