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Local clinic offers treatment for PCOS; new research shows diagnosis spike in Hispanic and Black women

Polycystic Ovary Syndrome affects nearly 1 in 20 women nationwide, and the chronic illness has no cure
Posted at 8:59 AM, Apr 28, 2023

MILWAUKEE — With nearly 1 in 5 women across the country struggling with infertility, one chronic condition is a big reason for those high statistics. A local hospital is doing what it can to try to support those suffering every day.

Aerica Davis is one of nearly 15% of women nationwide who deal with a chronic gynecological illness known as Polycystic Ovary Syndrome or PCOS.

“For years, I didn't know anything. I stayed on Google, trying to figure things out like, ‘What is this? What is that?’ until I found a good OB/GYN,” said Davis.

PCOS happens when a hormone imbalance causes a woman’s ovaries to function abnormally.

It affects close to 1 in 20 women in the United States and it causes infertility in nearly 30% to 40% of women who have it.

Aerica says she never thought about her fertility until she started planning her future.

“I didn't really start wanting kids, I believe, until I was 25 or 26. And that's when it hit me, like I possibly can't have kids because I didn't know nothing about the real background of PCOS and the infertility that came with everything. So, I became really depressed about that,” said Davis.

Anxiety and depression are two of the many symptoms that fall under the PCOS umbrella.

Some of the most common signs include irregular or no periods, obesity, excessive hair growth, and severe acne, with some women having small cysts on their ovaries.

With new research showing cases of PCOS growing in Hispanic and Black women, Dr. Jayme Bosler, an OB/GYN who specializes in reproductive medicine with Froedtert Hospital and the Medical College of Wisconsin, says the wide range of symptoms can often make treatment tough, leading some women to spend upwards of 10 years without an actual diagnosis.

“It's considered a diagnosis of exclusion, which, I think unfortunately, a lot of people miss that part. So, a lot of young women are told by their providers that, ‘Oh, you must have PCOS because your periods are irregular,’ and they kind of just dismiss it sometimes and don't give a lot of explanation,” said Dr. Bosler.

That explanation is what drives the work of Froedtert’s comprehensive clinic, a team complete with primary care doctors and endocrinologists, which is dedicated to screenings and treatments.

“We all have a closed circuit where we will refer, depending on what the patient's needs are. So, it's that multidisciplinary approach, I think, that really makes a difference,” said Dr. Bosler.

Aerica says her work with the clinic has made a huge difference in her treatment. After years of discomfort and pain, she says she finally feels like she’s in control and she couldn’t be more grateful.

“It's okay to have PCOS, it’s not the end of the world,” said Davis. “You’re not alone. You’ve got support and you’ve got help around, I promise you that. When you get the courage to speak up, somebody always be right there to help you out.”

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