Understanding PCOS

Understanding PCOS

Wait. Before you dismiss Poly Cystic Ovaries Syndrome as a condition that obese or infertile women have, you may want to check the list of symptoms first.

You may have a small degree of metabolic disorder and thus belong to the lower rung of PCOS, which is nothing but excess androgen.

Nearly 60 per cent of women worldwide now have some degree of PCOS. It is even found among school children.

Look for signs and symptoms:

Feeling lethargic or tired, reduced stamina.

Dark colour behind neck, underarms — Acanthuses Nigricans.

Excessive weight gain and difficulty in losing weight in spite of dietary measures.

Irregular periods (or late cycles)

Acne and frequent skin infections including fungal infection of groin.

Hirsuitsm in which male pattern hair growth occur in women with facial hair, and hair on chest, abdomen and legs.

Difficulty in conception (getting pregnant).

Miscarriages or repeated abortions.

Reduced interest in sex (libido) and reduction in lubrication during intercourse.

Early incidence of diabetes, high BP and high cholesterol.

You probably made a diagnosis just by reading the symptoms. Confirmation is easy by an ultra sound scan which shows multiple small cysts (old unruptured follicles with eggs) in both the ovaries. The abnormal hormonal ratio by increase in LH:FSH ratio more than one can be established by a lab test on day 2 of the cycle.

Treatment goals are based on your symptoms, be it infertility, excessive hair growth, obesity, risk of heart disease or diabetes.

Women with PCOS should make dietary modifications and exercise. Healthy eating tips include limiting processed foods and foods with added sugar and adding more whole-grain products, fruits, vegetables, and lean meats to your diet. This helps to lower blood glucose (sugar) levels, improve the body’s use of insulin, and normalise hormone levels in your body. Even a 10 per cent loss in body weight can restore a normal period, make your cycle more regular and more importantly, regain the ability to produce eggs naturally.

Medications that stimulate ovulation can help women with PCOS become pregnant. Anti-androgens help reduce hair growth and clear acne. Laser technique, electrolysis may be sought to tackle excessive hair growth.

Risk factors

More than 50 per cent of women with PCOS will have diabetes or pre-diabetes around the age of 40-50 years.

The risk of heart attack is 4 to 7 times higher in women with PCOS than women of the same age without PCOS.

Women with PCOS are at greater risk of having high blood pressure.

Women with PCOS have high levels of LDL (bad) cholesterol and low levels of HDL (good) cholesterol.