PCOS, or Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, is one of the most common hormonal imbalances a woman can suffer from in her reproductive age. Nobody would have even heard of it a few decades ago, but at present, almost 4-20% of women of reproductive age worldwide are suffering from this health condition.
The exact cause of PCOS is still unclear. However, women who have PCOS often have insulin resistance. Their bodies can not utilise the insulin properly, leading to insulin buildup.
The higher levels of insulin in the body result in higher androgen levels. PCOS is related to genes, and it runs in families. A woman whose mother, grandmother, or any other immediate female relative had PCOS will be at higher risk of having PCOS.
Another factor linked to PCOS is obesity. Although it is possible, even for a woman who is at the perfect weight to have PCOS, women who are overweight have a higher chance of developing PCOS.
PCOS refers to a health condition when there is an imbalance of androgen and insulin in a woman’s body. The common theory for PCOS condition is that an excessive amount of insulin in a woman’s body causes the ovaries to perform differently and produces a higher amount of androgen. Androgens are male hormones present in a woman’s body but in a small amount.
The literal translation of Polycystic Ovary Syndrome refers to a condition where the problem is the formation of multiple cysts in ovaries. However, the reality can be very different. PCOS is a condition which affects the entire body and not just the ovaries.
A wide range of symptoms are associated with PCOS, and it can vary from woman to woman. The severity of symptoms also varies, with some women showcasing mild symptoms and some showcasing severe ones. Symptoms of PCOS include, but are not limited to:
Women with PCOS may suffer from irregular, missed or very light periods. Enlarged ovaries with multiple cysts are also common symptoms of PCOS. It can also get very difficult for women with PCOS to get pregnant.
Depression, Anxiety, Mood Changes, and Lower Self Esteem are issues that women with PCOS deal with.
Male-pattern baldness(Alopecia), Excess facial and body hair, Darkened skin patches, Severe Acne on the face and body and weight gain are other common symptoms in women.
With PCOS, there is a high risk of other health conditions, including a higher risk of diabetes and cardiovascular diseases.
If you have any of these symptoms, it is essential to get yourself diagnosed. Your physical examiner will ask about your medical history and perform some tests based on your symptoms. The test may include:
Ultrasound is the use of sound waves to generate images of body organs. In the case of PCOS, an ultrasound may be done to look at the ovaries’ size and whether they have cysts or not. An ultrasound can also help determine the thickness of the lining of the uterus.
A blood test help determine the hormone levels in a woman’s body. Blood tests can check for higher androgen levels, glucose, and cholesterol.
There is no specific treatment plan for PCOS. It varies from woman to woman based on their condition and how severe their condition is. However, most of the time, it is a mix of lifestyle change and medication. The treatment plan also varies for women who want to get pregnant in the coming future and those who don’t.
Increased physical activity and a healthy diet are a solution for most health conditions. A lifestyle change also helps control symptoms like obesity and lower blood glucose levels.
Your healthcare provider may provide some medication to treat your PCOS. Women who wish to get pregnant will get medication to ovulate. It will help the ovaries release eggs, but it comes with risks like pelvic pain and bloating.
Women who don’t wish to get pregnant often get prescribed birth control pills to regulate their periods, lower their androgen levels and reduce acne. Diabetes medication can help regulate glucose levels in the body.
To regulate other symptoms, your healthcare provider may provide your other medications too.
The lifestyle changes in women with PCOS include diet swaps. High-fibre and anti-inflammatory food items seem to help in curing PCOS. High-fibre food items include leafy vegetables, fruits, almonds, berries, cauliflower, broccoli, sweet potatoes, and pumpkin, to name a few.
Anti-inflammatory food items include kale, spinach, fatty fish, and olive oil, among others. Having lean protein also helps lower the symptoms of PCOS.
Highly processed food items, or food high in carbohydrates, and sugar, are a big no-no in PCOS.
PCOS is a common health condition that women today are suffering from. However, it is possible to manage and lower PCOS with proper lifestyle changes and medications. If you are facing any of the symptoms we have discussed, then it is better to consult your doctor for a proper checkup and proceed with the treatment accordingly.