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Women's Health

Unpacking PCOS

2 Mins read

It’s often witnessed that the word ‘PCOS’ is tossed around when women share their opinions on menstruation. It would rather be a misconception to think of Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) as an equivalent of periods. On the contrary, while every woman goes through chums, only 1 in 10 women suffer from this hormonal disorder. 

Women experiencing this face challenges like menstrual periods that may be infrequent or prolonged in addition to excessive amounts of androgen (male hormones) which result in a massive growth of facial and body hair. This occurs when the ovaries develop follicles numerously and fail to release eggs in regularity. However, long term consequences can be avoided by early diagnosis to prevent further complications like heart disease and type 2 diabetes. 

Now while reading this, you might be bombarded with an influx of thoughts. How does one know when they are subject to this? The answer being, the earliest signs develop around the first menstruation at puberty. One can potentially look at a variety or a combination of factors like unexplained and substantial weight gain, irregular periods, severe acne, and hirsutism. (excess hair growth in addition to male-pattern baldness in some cases) 

Obese women suffering from PCOS are more likely to discover the early signs and symptoms for diagnosis. While the exact root cause of PCOS remains unknown, there is an interplay of several factors that might give rise to this disorder. It is always a great idea to be aware of your personal family’s medical history, be sure to check if PCOS is hereditary as genes are linked to this problem. 

Additionally, a combination of factors, for instance, excess insulin is produced in the pancreas making the cells resistant to the blood sugar levels thus causing them to rise and manufacture more insulin. Excess insulin levels favor the growth of androgen production that hinders the process of ovulation. Furthermore, out of many types of research conducted on women suffering from PCOS indicate they are subject to a kind of low-grade inflammation that stimulates increased androgen level production by the polycystic ovaries directly linked to the blood vessel and heart problems. 

So, what are some complications women suffering from PCOS might experience? Here’s a compilation to make you aware! 

  • Anxiety, depression and eating disorders 
  • Abnormal uterine bleeding 
  • Sleep apnea 
  • Miscarriage or premature birth 
  • Type 2 diabetes or prediabetes 
  • Infertility 
  • Nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (Severe fat accumulation in the liver) 
  • Metabolic syndrome (Several complications in conjunction like high blood pressure, high blood sugar, and abnormal triglyceride or cholesterol levels that increase risk for cardiovascular disease. 
  • Endometrial cancer (Of the uterine lining) 

Now that you are aware of the disease, how does one treat and manage it? The treatment for PCOS mainly focuses on managing individual and specific concerns pertaining to infertility, acne, obesity, and/or hirsutism. Combatting it requires certain lifestyle changes or medications prescribed by a doctor. 

Some home remedies include losing a few kilos in addition to a low-calorie diet and moderate exercise activities that one individual can adopt and may be recommended by your doctor. Besides, even losing 5% of your body weight can help the condition to a significant extent. Not only exercising helps in lowering blood sugar levels, but it also helps in reducing insulin resistance and preventing the development of diabetes. By doing this, effectiveness may be increased in the medications that are PCOS-related (birth control pills, progestin therapy…etc) and can also help with infertility. 

One must be aware of the list of symptoms that they are experiencing and for how long. Lastly, keeping a track of your menstrual records every month seems like a great practice to inculcate!

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