PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome) – SYMPTOMS, CAUSES AND TREATMENT

PCOS is hormonal disorder affecting women for reproductive age wherein male hormones namely the androgens are produces in quantities greater than normal. This overproduction of male hormones interferes with the normal menstrual cycle and affects a woman’s ability to conceive.

Women with PCOS generally have multiple cysts in their ovaries that interfere with normal ovulation and menstrual cycle, thus named polycystic ovarian syndrome. Along with androgens there is also an imbalance of other hormones like insulin and progesterone.

SYMPTOMS AND CAUSES OF PCOS

The first and the foremost symptom of PCOS in a woman is irregularity of menstrual cycle- Delayed periods, or missed periods.  In addition, other symptoms to look for include

  • Hirsutism i.e. Excessive hair growth especially on the face ,chest, thighs and stomach
  • scalp hair loss,
  • acne or oily skin
  • weight gain
  • darkening or dark patches on the skin

Women with PCOS are at increased risk of other health risk like diabetes, hypertension, obesity and heart problems etc to name a few.

The exact cause which causes PCOS in some women is not clearly understood. However, it is linked to family history, insulin resistance and lifestyle etc.

  1. GENETICS

If you have a mother or sister with PCOS then there are 50% chances of it affecting you too. Genes seem to play a role in PCOS.  However no single gene so far has been indentified that triggers PCOS so we can say multiple genes play a role.

  1. INSULIN RESISTANCE

Insulin resistance is inability of cells to effectively use insulin produced by the body cells. Up to 70% of women diagnosed with PCOS also suffer from insulin resistance. Insulin resistance trigger pancreas to produce more insulin and this in turn increase production of male hormones -the androgens. Insulin resistance is common in people with diabetes and obesity.

  1. INFLAMMATION

It has been observed that women with PCOS have increased levels of inflammation in their body.  This increased inflammation trigger male hormone production. Inflammation can be due to obesity, insulin resistance, unhealthy lifestyle etc.

  1. WEIGHT

80-90% of women with PCOS are either overweight or obese. Obesity or weight gain is associated with increased inflammation and insulin resistance which aggravate the symptoms of PCOS. Obesity also increased hormonal imbalance. However it is still a question whether obesity leads to PCOS or PCOS leads to weight issue in women with PCOS.

TREATMENT OF PCOS

There is no cure for PCOS but the treatments are available to reduce the symptoms and improve the chances of fertility. The interventions need to fight against PCOS include-

  1. MEDICAL MANAGEMENT

Drugs like birth control pills are administered to correct the hormonal imbalance, decrease symptoms of acne and hair growth. Medicines to induce ovulation and treat infertility are also available.

  1. NUTRITIONAL THERAPY

Diet and nutrition play an important role in PCOS. PCOS Diet Plan aims to help lose weight, improve insulin sensitivity and correct hormonal imbalances. Research shows that a loss in weight as small as 5-10% of the total body lessens the hormonal imbalance regularizes periods and improves symptoms. It is important to follow a PCOS diet plan for weight loss as women with PCOS also have many nutritional deficiencies like iron, vitamin D, folic acid etc. one should be wary of fad diets that claim quick weight loss as it further worsen the hormonal imbalance.

  1. PHYSICAL THERAPY

This includes exercising or increasing physical activity to lose weight, decrease insulin resistance and improve hormonal balance. Exercising is particular important when you are on a PCOS diet plan for weight loss because exercising produces hormone endorphins which are the happy hormones that decrease appetite and make you feel happy.

 

PCOS affects a large number of women all around the world. Most of the times women don’t realize they have PCOS and other times it goes undiagnosed. It is important to make women aware of this problem so that they can avail help earliest possible.