PCOS (Polycystic Ovary Syndrome) is a hormone imbalance disorder that affects women of reproductive age. It is a common hormone disorder in this demographic and significantly impacts their quality of life. It can also affect fertility and pregnancy, as hormonal imbalances can usually lead to difficulty conceiving or carrying a fetus.
According to a study reported by The Hindu, one in five women in India suffer from PCOS. Moreover, a lot of them remain undiagnosed!
September is the official PCOS Awareness Month, and we want every woman and man alike to understand what it means and how we can treat it.
So, let’s get into it!
What Does PCOS Mean?
PCOS (Polycystic Ovary Syndrome) is a hormonal disorder caused in women when their bodies produce higher than normal levels of androgens (male hormones). Every female body has specific amounts of androgens, but due to PCOS, the body starts making high levels of the same, which leads to problems in the reproductive system.
These hormonal imbalances restrict the regular release of eggs (ovulation). When this happens, the menstrual cycle gets disturbed, resulting in irregular periods and other symptoms.
PCOS causes ovaries to enlarge and form multiple cysts.
Common Signs/Symptoms Of PCOS
The first sign of PCOS is irregular/late periods. Others might include:
- Hair growth – Most commonly on your face but can take place on your back, stomach, and chest as well.
- Weight gain – Another prevalent sign of PCOS.
- Acne – Cystic breakouts on the face, chest, and upper back.
- Hair fall/Baldness – Thinning of hair leading to hair fall and baldness
Who Is Most Likely To Have PCOS?
- Women who are overweight or obese
- Have smoking/drinking habits
- Follow unhealthy diet
- Have no physical activity
- Women with Stress/Anxiety/Depression
- Women with Insulin resistance
- Family History of type-2 Diabetes
Diagnosis of PCOS
It’s advisable to consult your gynaecologist as soon as visible symptoms occur. The doctor might run some tests and physically examine your symptoms, which might include:
- An ultrasound – The doctor might recommend a pelvic ultrasound to diagnose the cystic appearance of ovaries. Other ultrasounds might include transvaginal ultrasound.
- Blood tests – Glucose tolerance test is a very common one. Other tests to check your hormone levels like FSH, LH, and TSH can be included.
- A Pelvic Exam – The doctor might examine your pelvic region manually or visually to diagnose any abnormalities.
How It Relates To Pregnancy
PCOS causes your body to produce higher levels of androgens (male hormones), affecting female hormones like estrogen and progestin. It hampers the regular release of eggs from the ovaries. When the egg is not released, fertilization through the sperm does not take place. Hence, leading to difficulty in getting pregnant.
According to a study, around 70-80 per cent of women with PCOS have difficulty getting pregnant. However, if you’re pregnant, it can lead to several health complications for you and your baby. For example, miscarriage, premature birth, etc., might occur. Also, there are chances that if your baby is a girl, she might get PCOS.
PCOS also makes up for higher chances of getting a cesarean and can cause other complications during the baby’s delivery.
Ways To Treat PCOS
- Lifestyle changes – The best possible treatment is by making specific shifts in your lifestyle and eating habits. Emphasizing a good diet, regular exercise, cutting down on sugar, etc., are great ways to start.
- Weight loss – As it is caused in overweight and obese women, losing weight can help.
- Birth control pills – Birth control pills contain estrogen and progestin that can help reduce the levels of androgens. Therefore, curbing PCOS.
- Medications – The medications might include Clomiphene, Metformin, etc. Consult your doctor before starting any medicine.
PCOS can be a major contributor to health issues like depression, anxiety, and heart diseases in the future. It can even lead to infertility. However scary it might sound, it is treatable. It can either be treated by making lifestyle changes or by taking medical help from your gynaecologist. It can also slow down your chances of getting pregnant. So, if you’re considering getting pregnant, it’s best that you consult a fertility specialist.
Late periods could also be a sign of other things than pregnancy, read it here!