Poly Cystic Ovary Syndrome is a multi faceted diseases that includes the manifestations and the risks of – depression, anxiety, infertility, weight gain along with increased risk of cancer, to list a few. Facial hair, rise in male secondary characteristics are also associated with PCOS. PCOS can be defined as a condition caused when the ovaries or adrenal glands produce abnormal levees of male hormones. The patients may have enlarged ovaries with fluid filled cysts or sacs, giving the condition its name. If it is left untreated , PCOS can lead to serious health complications like – infertility, type 2 diabetes, obesity, cardiovascular disease and uterine cancer. The condition is also called Stein-Leventhal syndrome. PCOS is the most common endocrine disorder affecting women between ages 18 and 44. More than 10 million cases of PCOS are reported in India. According to WHO , 116 million women suffer from PCOS. There is no permanent cure for PCOS.
Causes of PCOS:
The exact cause of POS is not understood. Doctors believe that genes play a major role and so does insulin resistance and low grade inflammation.
Symptoms associated with PCOS:
Irregular missed periods
Heavy bleeding during periods
Elevated levels of male hormones
Abnormal weight gain and trouble losing weight
Decreased ovulation or complete lack of ovulation
Abnormal hair growth, in a masculine distribution, like on the chest, belly , face and around the nipples.
Thinning of hair on the scalp
Oily skin and acne breakouts on the face, chest and the back
Dar or thick skin markings and creases around the groin, armpits , groin , neck and breasts
Complications associated with PCOS:
Those suffering from PCOS are likely to develop:
Abnormal uterine bleeding
Depression and anxiety
Type 2 diabetes
High blood pressure
High cholesterol levels
Tests and Diagnosis of PCOS :
There is no specific test to definitively diagnose PCOS. The doctor will begin with a physical exam, followed by a pelvic exam , to check on the reproductive organs for abnormal growths. Other tests include:
Hormone level tests
Lipid profile tests
Thyroid function tests
Glucose tolerance test
Trans vaginal ultrasound examination
Since there is no cure for PCOS, the aim of the treatment is to address specific symptoms and concerns of the patient. It involves hormone therapy to make periods more regular, which also help in managing acne breakouts and abnormal hair growth. Medicines are also given to control diabetes, lose weight and stabilize ovulation.
Life style modifications needed to manage PCOS:
Keep your weight in check
Start a weight control program under the guidance of a doctor or nutrition expert
Stick to a low carbohydrate diet
Use complex carbohydrates that are rich in fibre
Include green leafy vegetables, dried beans, liver and citrus fruits in your diet
Practise effective stress management
Losing weight, even a small amount can go a long way in PCOS management.