Reproductive health is an important part of women’s overall well-being, and ignoring the same could lead to some complications. One of those complications is PCOS (polycystic ovary syndrome), which affects the women's hormonal balance in their reproductive age.
In this condition, a woman's body produces more than usual male hormones (androgens) because of lack of timely evaluation forces seman inside giving rise to small cysts in ovary. This causes their body to skip menstrual periods. If left untreated, it can even give birth to new complications like diabetes, heart disease and infertility.
It’s a silent epidemic that has affected a major portion of the women population globally. Timely diagnosis and knowledge of this disease can make a big difference in its treatment.
PCOS symptoms vary from person to person. If you experience any two of the following symptoms, you should go for a diagnosis.
- Having fewer periods, irregular periods or very heavy periods are signs of PCOS. For example, having less than nine periods in a year or having periods after 35 days is not a good sign.
- Too much hair growth on the face and hair can be a sign of a higher level of androgen. This is called hirsutism. In some cases, acne, oily skin and male-pattern baldness can also occur.
- Development of dark patches in armpits or neck.
- The appearance of dark patches on the skin, especially in the folds of the neck, armpits, groin and under breasts. This is called acanthosis nigricans.
- Increase in size of ovaries due to the development of immature eggs around the edge of the ovary.
Although the exact cause is not known, some factors might play a role, including:
- Insulin resistance: It has been seen that more than half of the total women with PCOS have insulin resistance - meaning their bodies aren’t able to use the insulin effectively. Insulin is a hormone produced by the pancreas that regulates the sugar level in the bloodstream. When cells are unable to use the insulin, the demands of insulin increase, which escalates the level of insulin in the body. Extra insulin prompts the production of male hormones. This makes ovulation (a process in which mature eggs are released from the ovary) difficult for the body.
- Family history: Studies show that PCOS runs in families. There are many genes that are associated with this condition.
- Inflammation: Women with PCOS have a type of long-term, low-grade inflammation (a chronic response to disease or injury) that triggers polycystic ovaries to produce androgens.
If you’re experiencing the above-mentioned symptoms, consult a doctor. He may ask you a few questions related to your symptoms and family history. He may also conduct a physical exam that includes a blood test and ultrasounds to check for cysts, glucose, hormone and cholesterol levels.
The treatment of PCOS depends on several factors, like the severity of symptoms, your overall health and whether you are planning pregnancy at that time.
If you are planning pregnancy at the time of treatment:
- Maintain a healthy and balanced diet and incorporate more exercises into your routine. This way, you’ll be able to get in a good shape, efficiently utilise the insulin and lower your blood glucose level.
- Your doctor may prescribe some medications to help your ovaries release eggs normally. But use these medications as per the doctor’s recommendation.
If you are not planning the pregnancy at the time of treatment:
- Follow a healthy lifestyle.
- Take medications after consulting a doctor to control menstrual cycles, reduce acne, slow hair growth, lower androgens levels and insulin resistance.
Also, Read: Pregnancy Hospital Visits: How to Plan
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