Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a common hormonal disorder among women. A survey by the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) showed that about 20-25% of women of reproductive age suffer from PCOS in India. Unlike the name suggests though, your ovaries don’t have cysts on/in them if you have this disorder. Of the three key features of PCOS, if you have even two, you have the disorder. The three features are:
- Irregular periods: Which means your ovulation cycle is irregular.
- Polycystic ovaries: When ovaries become enlarged and there are cyst-like fluid-filled sacs in them.
- Excess androgen: When there are high levels of androgen, which is also referred to as the male hormone sometimes, in your body.
Symptoms of PCOS
If you notice any of the following, you should consult a doctor about getting checked for PCOS:
- Weight gain, especially around the waist
- Irregular, missed or no periods
- Thinning or loss of hair from the scalp
- Excessive hair growth on the face, back or chest
- Oily skin or acne
- Pelvic pain
In the best-case scenario, you can get an early diagnosis and make the necessary changes to control the condition. But in other situations, it can lead to complications like infertility, type 2 diabetes, miscarriage, preterm birth, metabolic syndrome, sleep apnea and depression.
Treatment of PCOS
There is no known cause for PCOS and no cure yet either. Once diagnosed through a pelvic exam, blood tests or a lower abdomen ultrasound, your doctor may prescribe medicines that help you manage the condition. Since it is largely considered a lifestyle disorder it can be helped by diet and lifestyle changes:
1. Exercising regularly: Being physically active has many health benefits, including helping you avoid obesity (which is often associated with PCOS) and regulate your hormones.
2. Managing weight: A large percentage of women who have PCOS are overweight. Is it said that even reducing your weight by 5% could help reduce some of the symptoms.
3. Eating better: PCOS is often accompanied by insulin resistance - which means your body can’t process insulin as it should, leading to excessive insulin production and, in turn, fluctuations in blood sugar levels. Reducing your sugar and carb intake can help regulate this.
For more information, read our article on Diet for Polycystic Ovary Syndrome.
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