PCOS also causes hair growth on the face and body, and baldness. And it can contribute to long-term health problems like diabetes and heart disease. Birth control pills and diabetes drugs (which combat insulin resistance, a PCOS symptom) can help fix the hormone imbalance and improve symptoms.
PCOS is a problem with hormones that too affects women during their childbearing years (15 to 44 years of age). Between 2.2 and 26.7 percent of women in this age group have PCOS. Many women have PCOS but don’t know it. In one study, up to 70 percent of women with PCOS hadn’t been diagnosed. PCOS affects a woman’s ovaries, the reproductive organs that produce estrogen and progesterone — hormones that regulate the menstrual cycle.
An increasing number of women in the reproductive age are suffering from a hormonal disorder called Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome. More awareness is needed about the condition, that prolongs for a lifetime and can be simply controlled by a proper diet and lifestyle.
An estimated one in fiveIndian women suffer from PCOS. If not monitored in time, the condition can have serious health impacts. PCOS is not a disease, but a condition that can present itself in different ways. While younger women may suffer from irregular periods, experience hirsutism (unwanted male-pattern hair growth) and obesity; in the slightly older age group, it may lead to infertility, risk of miscarriages and more. Conceiving a baby can be difficult with PCOS. There is nearly a percent chance that a female child may develop PCOS if the mother has it.
Women with PCOS are at a high risk of developing diabetes, high blood pressure, and other health complications. The more peripheral fat one has, more is the hormonal imbalance. An ideal Body Mass Index (BMI) is 25 but when one is obese, the BMI goes over 27-28 and this becomes alarming. PCOS is a lifelong health condition but one can control it with proper diet and ideal body weight. A diet with low carbohydrates, high protein, and daily physical exercise helps in controlling PCOS.
Most women ignore the common symptoms of PCOS and turn to a doctor only when they face trouble conceiving.
The incidence of the condition has been increasing every year, yet many women don’t think that it may be PCOS even when they notice symptoms. “They simply attribute it to lifestyle. PCOS does arise out of poor lifestyle habits but it has adverse effects and should be treated. Since it is not life-threatening, people don’t care enough about it.
PCOS is common in women suffering from obesity. Almost 80% of the PCOS patients are obese, urban women may be at a higher risk due to their poor lifestyle, eating habits and lack of physical activity.
What you need to know about PCOS?
PCOS is a hormonal disorder in reproductive women. It is a common diagnosis in women presenting with infertility. PCOS is a syndrome, not a disease. It is a lifelong condition that continues far beyond childbearing years.
l Irregular and delayed periods or no periods because of lack of ovulation.
l Excess abnormal hair growth (hirsutism), acne (pimples), thinning scalp hair and hair fall because of higher levels of male hormones.
l Multiple small cysts on the ovaries seen in an ultrasound.
l Obesity (excess weight) due to an unhealthy diet and lack of physical exercise.
l Women whose mother or sister has PCOS or Type 2 diabetes are more likely to develop PCOS.
l Insulin resistance (Type 2 diabetes).
It may lead to:
l Heavy and painful periods.
l Metabolic issues such as diabetes, gestational diabetes (diabetes during pregnancy), heart disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, stroke.
l Cancer of the uterus.
l Depression and anxiety (though the connection is not fully understood)
PCOS and infertility
If you have PCOS, you might struggle to get pregnant. This is because the high levels of male hormones prevent the release of an egg (ovulation).You can increase your chances of getting pregnant by:
l Being a healthy weight — even a 5 to 10% loss in weight has been shown to significantly increase the chance of becoming pregnant.
l Healthy eating.
l Monitoring ovulation and timing sexual intercourse around ovulation.
If you have made some changes and that still hasn't helped, your doctor might order fertility tests and prescribe fertility medications to help you ovulate.If medications don't work, your doctor might suggest surgery to remove a tiny amount of tissue that produces excess male hormones in the ovaries.
Another option is in vitro fertilisation (IVF), which offers the best chance of conception.However, this can be expensive and is usually only considered when all other options have been unsuccessful.
Fortunately, with lifestyle changes or infertility treatment, the majority of women with PCOS do become pregnant.
PCOS and pregnancy
Having PCOS can increase your risk of some complications during pregnancy, such as:
l High blood pressure induced by the pregnancy.
l Gestational diabetes.
l Premature birth.
Women with PCOS also have a higher likelihood of needing a caesarean delivery because their babies might be larger than expected for their gestational age.
Babies born to women with PCOS have a greater risk of being admitted to a newborn intensive care unit.
If you have PCOS and are pregnant, it is important you talk with your doctor. The risk of these complications can be reduced by monitoring PCOS symptoms and taking extra care during your pregnancy.
l See a gynaecologist if you observe any symptoms, especially irregular or delayed periods.
l If you have PCOS, ask the doctor for getting tested for Type 2 diabetes.
l Lose weight if obesity has triggered PCOS.
l Eat a balanced, low-carbohydrate, high-protein diet.
l Increase physical activity.
l Doctor may prescribe medication to help ovulation, reduce acne, hair growth and other symptoms.