Polycystic Ovarian Disease (PCOS) Can Shatter Your Life
More than 20% of Indian women suffer from this disorder and the trend seems to increase in north Indian states. PCOS is one of the major causes of infertility in Indian women. If we go by this number, then one in five women is suffering from PCOS in India. Nowadays, even young women are becoming prone to PCOS allover India.
What is PCOS?
Small cysts proliferate inside the ovaries (polycystic ovaries) and affect hormonal balance, growth, metabolism, and energy production. Hormonal imbalances lead to excess production of androgens, insulin resistance, growth disturbances, abnormalities in menstruation and ovulation, excess growth of body and facial hair and acne. Diabetes develops owing to elevated sugar levels resulting from insulin resistance. In about 6 to 11 percent of adult women who have reached to childbearing age, PCOS is a major condition for infertility problems.
PCOS can affect any woman irrespective of age and any other medical condition. Though there are several causes of PCOS, yet a strong family history and genetics play a critical role. The other reasons for PCOS may be obesity, sedentary lifestyle, unhealthy eating habits, hormonal changes and diabetes. A strong family history of diabetes increases the risk of PCOS tremendously.
Hormonal imbalances – hormones get out of sorts in PCOS. The other symptoms include gain in weight, obesity or excess body fat, insulin resistance, elevated blood glucose levels; growth of facial and body hair, thinning hair on the scalp, absence of menstruation, irregular periods or abnormal periods – heavy flow, less flow, prolonged flow; absence of ovulation, difficulty in conception and development of acanthosis nigricans (hyperpigmentation) are the other symptoms of PCOS. Anxiety and depression are the other psychological conditions associated with PCOS.
Untreated PCOS can lead to diabetes, heart disease and uterine cancer. Therefore, proper understanding of PCOS is essential to minimize complications in the long-run.
Diagnosis of PCOS
Gynaecologists in the Department of Obstetrics & Gynaecology at Sunshine Hospitals recommend blood tests and scans to diagnose PCOS. Our physicians evaluate the signs and symptoms and the patient’s past history. In addition, the patient is physically evaluated for high blood pressure, obesity and facial and body hair. Blood tests including sugar and hormonal tests (LH/FSH) are ordered.
To confirm the diagnosis of PCOS and to rule out any other health conditions with similar symptoms, pelvic ultrasound is done, and then blood test reports including insulin, FSH and LH are evaluated. Elevated levels of male hormones: andro-steredione and testosterone with high blood sugar levels may indicate PCOS.
Complications associated with PCOS
Complications that are associated with PCOS are many and may cause infertility and pregnancy-related issues like endometrial hyperplasia – thickening of the uterine lining, gestational diabetes, and difficulty in conceiving, repeated miscarriages and endometrial cancer. The other complications that may develop in the long-run if the PCOS is not addressed in time may include high cholesterol, high blood pressure, atherosclerosis, CAD, sleep apnea (fatigue and snoring during sleep), type 2 diabetes and heart attack.
Treatment is symptomatic and demands management of lifestyle-related factors for faster recovery. One such measure is weight management – in PCOS losing weight is just like taking medicines because if a woman manages to reduce as little as 12 to 15% of the weight, she can improve her fertility, menstruation and reduce future complications. Doctors may prescribe medicines to control symptoms and induce regular periods and also help improve fertility if a woman has problems getting pregnant. In addition, regular physical activity, balanced diet and regular consultations with the doctor will help in improving health and reducing future complications.
You should become active in your life if you want to keep the unpleasant symptoms of PCOS under check. Don’t be nervous, just take prompt action – make some lifestyle changes as discussed and then consult your doctor. If you delay consultation assuming that symptoms may go on their own, you may be at risk of developing complications. As far as PCOS is concerned to remember this proverb: A Stitch in Time Saves Nine.
Dr T. Rajeshwari Reddy
MBBS, MS (OBG), DES (Germany), FAMS (New Delhi), PGPMAX (ISB)
Consultant Obstetrician, Gynaecologist & Laparoscopic Surgeon
Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology