The new epidemic

The new epidemic


The new epidemic

Polycystic Ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a condition in which the ovaries show many small cysts arranged in the shape of a necklace within it. This results in an abnormality of the hormones, with the male hormone dominating. As a result, girls or women affected with this syndrome show features such as acne, excessive facial hair growth (hirsutism), weight gain and irregular or scanty menses.

The incidence of PCOS appears to be rising or perhaps it is now being diagnosed more often. It is seen in as many as 25-30 per cent of young women. In young girls, the symptoms are mainly cosmetic as they get disturbed by the instances of acne, weight gain and facial hair.

In married women, PCOS often manifests as infertility or as an inability to
conceive. In this condition, ovulation may not occur regularly, and as the egg does not come out each month, the chance of pregnancy is also low. It can be treated by tablets and injections which cause the patient to ovulate and she may then have greater chances of becoming pregnant. 

The treatment

The treatment is usually hormonal. Three weeks of treatment every month, for nine months, gives good results. The doctor may often prescribe drugs, which are used by diabetic patients, as these drugs are insulin sensitisers and improve the insulin insensitivity — the main problem behind PCOS.

In some infertility patients, in whom a laparoscopy (keyhole surgery) is being done to check the womb and tubes, a laparoscopic drilling of the cysts can be done too. In this procedure, the cysts in the ovary are burnt using a thin needle with an electric current passing through it. This improves the hormones and may help in achieving pregnancy.

PCOS-afflicted women in their 30s and 40s are more prone to diabetes and later to uterus cancer, if they are not careful and do not take proper medication. It is important to regularise periods, if they are irregular, with medicines. This prevents hyperplasia of the lining of the womb and subsequent cancer.

Many patients with PCOS are obese and one of the main treatments is lifestyle change with exercise, good diet and weight loss. This is the only thing which is effective in the long term. So, ensure you eat a wholesome, nutritious diet and get your daily dose of exercise.

PCOS can affect women of all age groups, causing different problems at different stages of life. Hence, it’s of utmost importance to diagnose it in time and treat it with care.

(The author is a consultant gynaecologist, Lilavati Hospital, Jaslok hospital and
Hinduja Healthcare, Mumbai)

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