Polycystic Ovary Syndrome aka PCOS
3 December 2021
What is PCOS?
PCOS alerts some problem with the ovaries of females. What kind of problem? Before that, let’s have a brief idea about the normal function of the ovaries. Ovaries are female reproductive organs that is a storehouse of oocytes which mature into ovum(egg) one at a time. When this egg is released into the fallopian tubes, it is called as ovulation. Ovulation is very important aspect for females to conceive and lack of ovulation increases the risk of infertility. Because the sperm has to fertilize the mature ovum i.e., egg that is released every month as a result of normal physiological function to give rise to embryo. Basically, the foetus! The eggs that are not fertilized are removed as blood by the system every month. This periodic bleeding every month also called as Menses is a sign of a healthy female reproductive system although painful at times. In case of Amenorrhea which is irregular menses or absence of menses is a sign of probable PCOS but not always. Amenorrhea can also be due to other factors like pregnancy, menopause, birth control pills, stress, side-effects of medications, etc. But it is always recommended to consult a doctor under such conditions. How does then one develop PCOS? When a female does not ovulate regularly, the ovum that is not released become cysts which is fluid filled sacs inside the ovaries. These cysts release the male sex hormone androgens. In normal female only basal level of androgen is present but under such special conditions there is abnormal rise in the androgen level in females leading to development of male specific traits like male-pattern baldness, excess air on face, body, chest and stomach.
What are the generalized symptoms that can be observed in PCOS?
· Amenorrhea/light periods
· Excess facial/body hair
· Enlarged ovaries with cysts
· Weight Gain
· Acne/oily skin
· Male-pattern baldness/thinning of hair
· Dark skin patches behind neck, arm, pits, under breasts
Who are at Risk of PCOS?
People with amenorrhea, it could be hereditary, obese people and insulin resistant people can contract PCOS.
Complications of PCOS
Individuals with PCOS are at an increased risk of developing Type 2 diabetes, heart problems, high blood pressure, uterine cancer, etc.
PCOS: A lifestyle disorder?
Most research does vouch for it to be primarily caused by lifestyle changes as the existence of the problem is more in urban than in rural regions. Does it mean than with urbanization we are becoming unhealthier? Well, it’s a matter of careful consideration and choice and therefore it become all the more important to spread the awareness of the trouble beforehand so that people know of the risks they might put themselves into. It has been observed that the disease exists predominantly in the younger population with almost 10 million people affected globally. In India alone, every one of four individuals develop PCOS with the prevalence being 3.7 to 22.5 per cent based on population and the criteria used.
What causes PCOS?
There no established centralized cause for PCOS. It is multifactorial- genetics, sedentary lifestyle, environmental, nutritional deficiencies, metabolic disorders, chronic inflammation and poor immunity. Sometimes it may be hereditary reason but most of the times it is the lifestyle with lack of exercise, inadequate nutritional diet which leads to poor immunity, obesity and other metabolic disorders like insulin resistance.
How is PCOS diagnosed?
· Pelvic Exam – The doctor manually examines the patients’ reproductive organs for growth or abnormalities.
· Ultrasound – Sound waves are used to check the appearance of the ovaries and the thickness of the uterus to detect abnormalities.
· Blood tests – Check hormone levels like the androgens and the female reproductive hormones, blood glucose, fasting cholesterol and triglycerides.
Treatment for PCOS
The individual problems like infertility, acne, hair growth specifically is targeted. The doctors suggest combination of lifestyle changes and medications as improving the lifestyle positively affects the medications.
Lifestyle changes include reducing weight with low fat diet and adequate exercise.
Medications like Clomiphene & letrozole improves ovulation, Metformin helps lower insulin resistance, birth control pills prescribed to reduce androgen levels, etc. The medications differ for individual who are planning to conceive and accordingly prescribed.
Takeaway points to fight PCOS! ( Check Image )
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