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Know more about PCOS

Know more about PCOS

Lifestyle changes, relevant tests and prescribed medications can help manage the symptoms of PCOS

 

PCOS

The subject of women’s menstrual health is largely avoided or ignored. As a result, there is insufficient awareness about its various aspects even among adolescent girls and women.

Polycystic ovarian syndrome or PCOS is one such aspect of menstrual health that affects 2.2 to 26 percent of women globally, as per India’s National Health Portal. Doctors describe PCOS as a hormonal disorder that causes infrequent, irregular or prolonged menstrual cycles. It commonly affects women during their reproductive age.

Dr N Sapna Lulla, lead consultant, obstetrics and gynaecology, Aster CMI Hospital Bengaluru, told Happiest Health that PCOS affects one in ten women in India. “PCOS is one of the most common metabolic and reproductive disorders among women of reproductive age,” she said. “PCOS results from a combination of causes, including genes and environmental factors. Factors such as excess insulin, androgen and hereditary causes can increase the risk of developing PCOS.”

Symptoms

Dr Lulla said that obese women tend to show severe symptoms and complications. “Some of the complications associated with PCOS are infertility, gestational diabetes, miscarriage or premature birth, non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (a severe liver inflammation caused by fat accumulation in the liver), metabolic syndrome, sleep apnoea, depression, anxiety, abnormal uterine bleeding and endometrial cancer,” she said. “A cluster of conditions that occur together can increase the risk of heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes.”

The symptoms of PCOS are irregular periods, missed periods, weight gain, thinning hair, excessive hair growth (hirsutism) on the face, chest, back or buttocks, infertility, acne and oily skin.  Not all women will have all the symptoms of PCOS as each body differs from one another. Thus the symptoms will also vary.

“Various hormones control our bodily functions,” said Dr Sarika Gupta, consultant, gynaecologic, oncology and robotic gynaecology at Indraprastha Apollo Hospitals, New Delhi. “The main hormones that play cyclical changes in PCOS include estrogen and progesterone. There is also an increase in androgen. This hormone is mostly present in men, but women have them too.”

Treatment and diagnosis of PCOS

“We recommend women with PCOS to take blood tests, do an ultrasound and pelvis exam,” Dr Lulla said. “Other tests include periodic check-ups of blood pressure, glucose tolerance and cholesterol and triglyceride levels. To find out further health complications, women with PCOS should go for screenings for depression, anxiety and obstructive sleep apnoea.”

Dr Gupta suggested lifestyle changes including weight reduction, regular to moderate exercise and reducing carbohydrate intake. “Doctors also prescribe medications which may include hormonal medicine and medicines that help in better carbohydrates metabolism,” she said.

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