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1 year ago
How Having PCOS Affects Your Sex Life

On the surface, infrequent periods can seem like a blessing. But that irregularity is one of the most prominent clues you may have polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), a condition that causes hormone imbalance and increases androgen levels (like testosterone). It affects up to 10 percent of women between the ages of 18 and 44, according to the National Institute of Health.

RELATED: Are Your Periods Irregular? You Could Have This Syndrome and Not Even Know It

Aside from needing to constantly stash a tampon in your bag just in case, PCOS also causes physical changes like weight gain and acne—and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention even names PCOS the number one cause of infertility. But what you may not know is that PCOS can mess with your sex life, too.

Here's how PCOS can screw with your satisfaction between the sheets—and how to get some relief. 

1. Your Period Shows Up Whenever It Damn Well Pleases
Yes, we covered this, but it's worth repeating since a sporadic flow can make it hard to get it on, says Mary Jane Minkin, M.D., a clinical professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Yale University School of Medicine. Consider this: You’ve got a hot date planned for Friday night, and you’re planting all the seeds to get past third base. But when you wake up Friday morning with dark stains on your sheets, Aunt Flo lets you know she’s got other plans. “That can be a real downer,” she says.

While, yes, a date with a new guy is probably not the time to have the "are you cool with period sex?" talk, you should know that there's no shame in getting down when your red flag is up. In fact, here are five tips that can make period sex the hottest sex ever.

2. You Just Don’t Feel Like Having Sex
Nearly 60 percent of women with PCOS experience some form of sexual dysfunction, according to a study published in the Iranian Journal of Reproductive Medicine. And nearly every woman in that group cited problems with desire and arousal. The researchers noted PCOS and sexual issues go hand in hand, and they’re likely the result of women developing body issues that come with the syndrome (more on that later).

RELATED: 5 Tips to Make Period Sex the Hottest Sex

Your sex drive can also take a hit when birth control pills get involved. And they often do since the pill can help regulate hormones and put an end to irregular periods, says Minkin. But some birth control pills can lower your testosterone levels, which shoots your libido down, she says. If this sounds like you, ask your ob-gyn for a libido-friendly pill.

3. You’re Feeling Insecure About Your Body
Increased testosterone levels can lead to extra hair sprouting up where you don't want it, like your face, chest, and back (a condition called hirsutism). Ironically, it can also cause strands to fall out from the places you do want 'em, like your ponytail. Add acne and weight gain into the mix, two other major symptoms of PCOS, and your confidence can suffer. “Skin, hair, and weight changes make people feel less attractive,” says Minkin. Feeling insecure means you may be more likely to opt for a solo hoodie-and-Netflix night over a date with your boy toy. If left untreated, your blah mood might stick around. A study published in the journal PNAS linked PCOS with an increased risk of developing depression and anxiety disorders. If this sounds familiar, consult a psychologist or sexologist for support.

4. You’re Stressed About Getting Pregnant
For those trying to have a baby, sex can become a chore—and a turnoff since insisting on sex at the precise moment you’re ovulating isn’t exactly sexy.  And since this disorder means your sex hormones out of whack, the time of the month that you ovulate is irregular, meaning your chances of getting pregnant are reduced, says Minkin. Fun, right? Luckily, you’re not doomed. Talk to your ob-gyn about medications you can take to help you conceive.

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