As the name suggests, Poly Cystic Ovary Syndrome(PCOS) refers to the formation of many(poly) cysts in the ovaries along with imbalances in sex hormone levels. It is a hormonal disorder common among women of reproductive age. PCOS affects a woman’s ovaries, the reproductive organs that produce estrogen and progesterone — hormones that regulate the menstrual cycle.
Causes of PCOS
Excess Androgens- Ovaries producing abnormally high levels of androgens which are known as the male hormones.
Hereditary- Research suggests that certain genes might be linked to PCOS.
Excess Insulin- If your cells become resistant to the action of insulin, then your blood sugar levels can rise and your body might produce more insulin. Excess insulin might increase androgen production, causing difficulty with ovulation.
Inflammation- Being overweight can also contribute to inflammation. Studies have linked excess inflammation to higher androgen levels
Symptoms of PCOS
Polycystic Ovaries- Multiple cysts in one or both the ovaries along with enlarged ovaries.
Irregular Menstrual Cycle- Less than 8 menstrual cycles a year or no periods for a couple of months. In some cases it could also lead to prolonged periods that may be scant or heavy .
Hair Growth- Higher than normal levels of male hormones (androgens like testosterone, etc.) that may result in physical signs, such as excess facial and body hair.
Acne- Male hormones can make the skin oilier than usual and cause breakouts on areas like the face, chest, and upper back.
Darkening of the skin- Dark patches of skin can form in body creases like those on the neck, in the groin, and under the breasts.
Male pattern baldness- Hair on the scalp gets thinner and may fall out.
Weight gain- Up to 80 percent of women with PCOS are overweight or have obesity.
Headaches- Hormone changes in PCOS can trigger headaches in some women.
Signs and symptoms of PCOS often develop around the time of the first menstrual period during puberty. Sometimes PCOS develops later, as a response to substantial weight gain. PCOS signs and symptoms are typically more severe in obese women. Obesity is associated with PCOS and can worsen complications of the disorder.
Complications Arising Due to PCOS
Infertility- PCOS interrupts the normal menstrual cycle and makes it harder to get pregnant. Between 70 and 80 percent of women with PCOS have fertility problems.
Metabolic syndrome- Raises the risk of other health problems, including diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease and stroke.
Sleep apnea- This condition causes repeated pauses in breathing during the night, which interrupts sleep.
Depression & Mood Swings- Both hormonal changes and symptoms like unwanted hair growth can negatively affect emotions. Many with PCOS eventually experience depression and anxiety.
Treatment of PCOS
Although the exact cause of PCOS is unknown, early diagnosis and treatment, along with weight loss may reduce the risk of long-term complications. PCOS treatment starts with lifestyle changes like weight loss, a nutrition plan that has a good intake of all the nutrients in the right proportion, and regular physical activity/exercise. Losing just 5 to 10 percent of your body weight can help to regulate your menstrual cycle and reduce PCOS symptoms.
The medical treatment used to manage PCOS symptoms should strictly be done under the guidance and supervision of a qualified health professional. Polycystic ovary syndrome(PCOS) is a complex condition. Conditions will differ from person to person. History and physical examination are required to ensure appropriate diagnosis and treatment. Your doctor can create a treatment plan for you that is tailored to treat your individual symptoms. With the inputs of a qualified dietitian, lifestyle, nutritional and physical activity modification can bring about positive changes.
About the Author: Preetha Sanjeev has teaching experience of over 15years and has completed her Kindergarten & Montessori Teachers Training. She also holds the Cambridge International Diploma for Teachers and Trainers. Preetha has a passion for fitness and nutrition and holds multiple certifications in both. She is a qualified pre & postnatal yoga instructor, with advanced certification as a yoga instructor for children. Her understanding of the subject matter and easy writing skills make her an invaluable part of the Juvenate Team. For more information about us, please visit us at www.juvenatewellbeing.org.