PCOS: What is it?
A hormonal and metabolic disorder called polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) or polycystic ovary disorder (PCOD) affects the ovaries. When a woman’s body is unable to finish the monthly ovulation process, PCOS is the result.
Women with PCOS have less than 8 menstrual cycles per year. The cysts on the lining of the ovaries are immature eggs stuck on the ovarian walls as they are not mature enough to be thrown out of the body. This imbalance in the hormone levels raises androgen levels. And the causes of this are – unusual body hair, weight gain, hair loss, and other medical issues. Usually, a PCOS test is performed to detect this disorder.
In the modern era, this condition affects 2-40% of women between the ages of 12 and 45. It is one of the most prevalent health problems affecting women. Among others, obesity is also listed as a symptom, but not all obese women have PCOS.
PCOS: Reasons & Symptoms
The reasons behind PCOS are still unknown. It is expected due to genetics, obesity, high blood pressure and insulin resistance. But, it is still unclear how hormonal imbalance affects blood sugar. Scientists are still studying the genetic relationship between hormones and insulin resistance.
- Research on PCOS is still ongoing due to the lack of research on the condition. At last, it is concluded that PCOS does have hereditary factors based on the evidence from past research. But as the research is ongoing, this does not imply that PCOS is completely a hereditary condition. This only indicates that PCOS is passed through families. A woman’s chance of getting PCOS is 50% higher when someone in her family has had this condition. This is because PCOS enters the genetic code. Still, the actual genetic issue has yet to be found.
- One of the main contributing factors to women with PCOS is their way of life. This includes – excessive stress exposure, inactivity, unpredictable eating patterns, and inadequate sleep. That is why women with obesity are at high risk, but not all obese women have PCOS.
- One of insulin’s functions in the body is to prevent excessive blood glucose increase after meals. It is done by opening the body’s cells and enabling glucose to enter the cells through circulation. As a result, blood glucose levels are reduced. An imbalance of hormones insulin and androgens in the body brings the symptoms and signs of PCOS.
Gynecologists say that various factors can lead to ovarian cyst development. Any of these factors does not cause PCOS. In reality, cysts occasionally disappear on their own as well. However, you must undergo surgery or take medication to eliminate or dissolve the cysts caused by PCOS.
PCOS symptoms can appear in various ways. While some women will only experience a few moderate symptoms, others will experience several severe symptoms. Throughout a woman’s life, the symptoms may also change.
- High amounts of androgens and insulin can disrupt the monthly ovulation cycle and menstruation. This happens even though some women with PCOS have regular periods.
- Women with PCOS may suffer periods that may be erratic or stop completely. Some ladies’ periods don’t start because of PCOS.
- High amounts of androgens and insulin can affect the menstrual cycle and prevent ovulation in women with PCOS. Ovulation may occur irregularly or stop completely (anovulation). Although it is more challenging for women with PCOS to conceive naturally. This does not always imply that all those with the condition are infertile. Once pregnant, women with PCOS may experience more pregnancy-related complications.
- As high amounts of androgen stimulate the hair follicles, excessive hair growth occurs on the face and body. The hair often grows in places where men are more likely to have hair. Areas such as the lower belly, chest, thighs, upper lip, chin, and sideburn region.
How is PCOS diagnosed and treated?
PCOS is not diagnosed only by a PCOS test. The doctor will start the diagnosis by taking a history of your symptoms and performing a physical examination. This includes –
- Blood tests
- Cholesterol tests
- Blood sugar tests
- Hormone levels tests
- Ultrasound to measure the lining of your uterus, examine for tumors, and check your ovaries for cysts.
Doctors recommend hormonal birth control, like pills or skin patches, to help women avoid unwanted pregnancies. These medications can help regulate your periods, reduce excess body hair, and minimize your risk of endometrial cancer. Fertility treatments help stimulate the release of eggs from ovaries for women who want to get pregnant.
In India, PCOS is constantly increasing. Teenagers are developing PCOS at an increasing rate due to their sedentary lifestyles. On average, approximately 20% of Indian women have PCOS. However, the population in urban and semi-urban areas is excluded from this data. Many women in rural, urban, and semi-urban India do not discuss their periods because it is very sensitive. As a result, they never get a proper diagnosis. The actual figure may be higher than expected.