Polycystic Ovary Syndrome - Symptoms, Treatments & Causes

While the underlying reasons might vary from person to person, it may be caused due to hormonal imbalance, sedentary lifestyle, changes in your environment, metabolic disorders, or even continued regular stress.

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What is PCOS?

1 in 5 Indian women have PCOS.

1 in 5 women in India suffer from a condition you may not know about. The symptoms of this condition can be easily dismissed as harmless or 'no big deal'- irregular menstrual cycles, painful periods, uncontrolled weight gain, acne. But this condition, called PCOS, causes severe discomfort for millions of women across the world on an everyday basis. If you recognise these symptoms, either in yourself or someone around you, read this article to know some crucial information about this shockingly common disease.

What is PCOS?

Polycystic Ovary Syndrome is a hormonal imbalance in which ovaries (female reproductive organs) produce higher than the normal level of testosterone (the male sexual hormone). This imbalance can result in irregular menstrual cycles and in some cases, infertility or the inability to bear children. PCOS affects more than 25% of Indian women who are of reproductive age, usually between the age of 14 and 40.

How is PCOS caused?

While the underlying reasons might vary from person to person, it may be caused due to hormonal imbalance, sedentary lifestyle, changes in your environment, metabolic disorders, or even continued regular stress.

What makes PCOS such a threat?

PCOS can cause various serious health problems such as infertility, endometrial cancer, heart problems, obesity, metabolic disorders and depression.

What are the symptoms of PCOS?

  • Delayed and irregular periods
  • Heavy menstrual bleeding
  • Acne (pimples)
  • Unusual weight gain
  • Thinning of hair and hair fall
  • Facial hair
  • Headaches

How can PCOS be detected?

You should see a gynaecologist if you experience one or more of these common symptoms associated with the syndrome. A doctor would usually ask you to take a blood test, undergo a pelvic examination, but other tests to determine the levels of various hormones are also helpful. In some cases, your doctor may ask you to take an ultrasound.

If PCOS is so common, why don't more people know about it?

First, even though it is a common condition, it often remains undiagnosed because the discomfort during periods has been normalised to an extent that many women, especially when they are young, don't see a reason to complain or get themselves checked up. But this condition can trigger major severe life-threating diseases, if untreated.

Secondly, most women are not aware of the syndrome or the consequences of PCOS, and it is often left untreated for a long time. They may know and express individual symptoms but might not connect it to the syndrome.

Thirdly, PCOS tends to get less attention as compared to other diseases such as heart disorders, diabetes, and cancer.

What is the best management of PCOS?

Every woman experiences PCOS differently, so management also varies depending on the level of hormonal disruption and other associated symptoms. PCOS cannot be treated to disappear, but its effect can be reduced and managed.

Adhering to a healthy, well-balanced diet as prescribed by your doctor is as important as sticking to the medication they prescribe. You can also make some lifestyle changes such as practising yoga and meditation or engaging in regular exercise. This can help you lose weight and keep your metabolism in check, helping you manage the symptoms of PCOS.

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