September is Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) Awareness Month. As a leader in the menstrual care industry, Diva advocates for awareness and support for endocrine and menstrual-related disorders like PCOS. From 2018-2019 Diva supported the OM Health Study, led by Harvard Professor Dr. Shruthi Mahalingaiah, through social education of study enrollment and PCOS.  

According to the PCOS Awareness Association (PCOSAA), September is set aside as a time when advocates, specialists, researchers and supporters promote PCOS education and raise awareness about issues related to PCOS. 

The following is a guide for better understanding PCOS and how industry can better support those living with the disorder.  

About PCOS Awareness Association 

PCOS Awareness Association is a worldwide non-profit organization dedicated to the advocacy of PCOS. They provide education and support services to help people understand what PCOS is and how it can be treated. 

Over the last few years, PCOS has gone from relative obscurity to a common condition effecting up to 10% of all people with periods. This number is only an estimate. Unfortunately, over half of the 10,000,000 people that have PCOS are completely unaware of it. Thats why PCOS awareness is crucial. 

For many, the feeling of something not being quite ‘right’ about their periods remains a question mark for years before they’re able to get any concrete answers. For some, one of those answers may be PCOS

Each year the association hosts a variety of events in support of those affected by the disorder. View the full event listings here 

What is PCOS?

woman wearing pyjamas laying down with a heat pack for PCOS symptoms

PCOS is an endocrine disorder that effects a person’s entire body, including their periods. Some of the most common PCOS symptoms include:

Elevated Androgens in the Blood  

Androgens are male hormones (e.g. testosterone) that can cause many physical changes to the body and disrupts the menstrual cycle.  

Multiple Ovarian Cysts  

When functioning normally the ovaries produce follicles each month which release an egg during ovulation. In people with PCOS these follicles often turn into cysts which can disrupt ovulation and cause pain. Many people discover they have PCOS while on the journey to become parents. Because of the compromised ovarian function many people with PCOS encounter difficulty conceiving.  

Infrequent or Absent Periods  

Because of the imbalance of hormones that regulate the menstrual cycle people with PCOS often experience painful, irregular or absent periods.  

Excessive Body Hair  

With the elevated levels of androgens in the blood this causes the growth of body hair in places like faces and chests that is often thicker and darker than other body hair 

Rapid Weight Gain/Difficulty Maintaining Normal Weight  

This is often seen because of the changes in the way our bodies produce and use insulin. Insulin is a hormone secreted by the pancreas that helps our body decide how to store or use the energy it gets from food in the form of glucose. Due to PCOS, cells become resistant to insulin and often store more energy than they release which can explain rapid weight gain or difficulty losing weight.  

How is PCOS diagnosed? 

PCOS can be tricky to diagnose since it consists of a constellation of symptoms that effect the whole body and can present as other conditions. Typically, a doctor will do some, or all, of the following: 

  • Ask in-depth questions to assess: Past health, current symptoms, and what your periods are like. 
  • Do a comprehensive physical examination to look for signs of PCOS. 
  • Request several blood tests to check blood sugar, insulin levels, and hormone levels. 
  • Ultrasounds (both transvaginal and/or abdominal) to detect the presence of ovarian cysts as well as their sizes.  
  • While uncomfortable, these imaging tests are helpful in making a definitive PCOS diagnosis as the doctor can physically see if there are ovarian cysts and establish a baseline for their position and size.

Life After PCOS Diagnosis

two women living with PCOS enjoying lunch in a kitchen

When someone receives a PCOS diagnosis the biggest thing to remember is that it is absolutely possible to lead a full, amazing life. PCOS, like many health conditions, can be managed well through: 

Good Sleep Schedule

Getting a full night of sleep is important for regulating mood and improving overall wellbeing. Picking a consistent bedtime and avoiding screen time right before bed can also improve sleep.  

Balanced Diet  

Help improve insulin resistance and hormone levels by incorporating lower GI (glycemic index) foods like berries, leafy greens, and almond flour into a diet plan.   

Joyful Movement  

Movement is super important in the management of PCOS. Low impact activities are best such as walking or aquarobics 


Various medications can help regulate hormones, sensitize cells to insulin, help with excess hair growth, or improve fertility. Working with a doctor to establish individual health goals will help determine what, if any, medications may be right required 

Visit My PCOS Team‘ for more information and community support.

PCOS the basics infographic