Tell Tale Symptoms of Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS)
Polycystic Ovarian syndrome (PCOD) is one of the most common hormonal disorder found in women, affecting approximately 10% of the women worldwide, with less than 50% of them diagnosed. The syndrome is present throughout a woman’s life from puberty through post- menopause and affects women of all races and ethnic groups. It is thought to be hereditary and may run in families. Environmental factors such as diet also play a role in the development of PCOS.
Women with PCOD wrestle with an array of possible symptoms including obesity, irregular menstrual cycles, infertility, depression, acne and hair loss. Far reaching health implications such as increased risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes make these already stressful symptoms even more daunting. It is the most common hormonal problem in this age group and also a leading cause for increasing infertility in our country
1. Irregular periods, Delayed menses
Women may have irregular periods, they may have only 6 to 8 periods per year, they may get their period every month for a few months then skip a month or two or they may go many months without period.
2. Pimple, acne, excess hair growth (male pattern) & oily skin
Another common symptom of PCOD is acne or oily skin. Acne may occur over the face but may also be found over the back /chest. This is due to higher levels of male hormone, which can also cause excess facial hair on the chin or upper lip or excess hair growth on chest and tummy. The hormones also cause hair thinning and hair loss.
3. Polycystic ovaries – seen on Ultrasound
The third common feature is what is called polycystic ovaries. This is actually a misnomer as the ovaries of woman are not really full of cysts but rather ovarian follicles that don’t mature and eggs are not produced. Hence the woman is not able to achieve pregnancy.
Obesity is also common with PCOD. 50 to 60 % of these girls are obese. They are also at greater risk of developing diabetes in their midlife.
- Weight loss is of prime importance in the treatment of this problem. For overweight girls losing 5-10 % of the body weight may help. Exercise (or movement) is one area of wellness that many women just don’t spend enough time on. Exercise may help your moods, raise your energy levels and help balance your hormones. As with so many issues that surround PCOS, there is no “best way” than to exercise with PCOS. You need to find a way to exercise every day in a way that you enjoy. Try taking a walk at lunch, a yoga class, or swimming.
- Hormonal treatment is done to correct the hormonal imbalance. With the treatment, the acne, facial hair reduce and the periods also become regular.
- These girls often need help in order to conceive when they plan family. But with proper counseling, guidance, diet planning, exercise and active life style and medicine when required, we can combat this hormonal problem & help them attain a healthy life.
Long term risks & complications
PCOS women are at increased risk of the following:
- Endometrial hyperplasia and cancer (cancer of uterine lining) are possible due to over accumulation of uterine lining.
- Women with PCOS have an increased prevalence of diabetes. These women are also prone to diabetes during pregnancy, particularly if obese.
- Hypertension (High Blood Pressure)can happen if women are obese and are also prone during pregnancy.
- Depression or anxiety
- Dyslipidemia or increased cholesterol
- Heart diseases
By Dr. Seema Manuja
Senior Consultant – Gynaecology
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