PCOS or Polycystic ovary syndrome is a lifestyle disease that is increasingly affecting young women in their reproductive years. A study in 2015 has revealed that about 18% of women in India, between the ages of 15 to 30, suffer from this condition.
PCOS occurs in women when they have a hormonal imbalance.This hormonal imbalance is caused due to the formation of multiple cysts on the ovaries. Because of the formation of the cysts, the ovaries become enlarged.
These cysts cause an imbalance of sex hormones. For example-
- Insulin is a hormone produced by the pancreas. This hormone converts the food we eat into energy. Women with PCOS may become resistant to insulin and may become more prone to developing type 2 diabetes.
- The ovaries produce small amounts of the male sex hormone called androgen. A woman with PCOS may begin to produce larger amounts of such hormone thus causing her to grow unwanted facial or chest hair among other symptoms.The high insulin levels in the blood could be the cause for the increased production of male sex hormones.
The reason for developing PCOS is still unclear. But, doctors believe that PCOS may be heredity. If anyone in your family has or has had PCOS or irregular periods, you are at a greater risk of developing this disease.
Symptoms of PCOS generally vary from woman to woman. Enlisted below are some of the most common symptoms that women with PCOS suffer from.
- Unwanted hair growth on the face and body
- Hair fall from the scalp
- Mood fluctuation
- Irregular periods
- Weight gain leading to obesity
- Difficulty getting pregnant
If you have any of these symptoms, it is advisable to see a doctor. PCOS can be diagnosed through lab tests like hormone test, blood sugar test. An Ultrasound scan is often conducted to look for cysts in the ovaries.
If left untreated, PCOS can lead to serious health issues such as type 2 diabetes, hypertension, cholesterol, and heart problems.
Your doctor may prescribe birth control pills in order to regularize your menstrual cycle and control your symptoms. Medicines should be accompanied with:
- Regular physical exercise
- Healthy food which includes fruits, vegetables, whole grains and nuts
- Limited consumption of saturated fat and trans fat foods
- Weight loss
Any treatment, be it hormonal pills or surgery, cannot cure the condition. It can only control the symptoms. Taking medications and maintaining a healthy lifestyle is the best way to avoid any complications in the future.
Women with PCOS have a higher rate of miscarriage, premature delivery, and gestational diabetes.Hence, if you become pregnant, inform the doctor you are consulting about your history with PCOS. Special care may be required.
Once you are diagnosed with PCOS, regular check-ups are important to ensure that your hormone levels are within limits and that there are no other complications. Regular check-ups are just to ensure that your condition is under control.