Bat­tling PCOS: ev­ery­thing women must know

We spoke to health ex­perts to help you deal with the syn­drome that af­fects one out of 10 women in In­dia

Hindustan Times (Patna) - Live - - Lifestyle - Kri­tika Dhawan ■ htc­ity@ hin­dus­tan­times. com

Do you of­ten feel low on energy or re­cently no­ticed ex­tra body or fa­cial hair? Are you over­weight or your in­sulin or blood-sugar is usu­ally high? It’s time you saw a doc­tor as you could be suf­fer­ing from Poly­cys­tic Ovary Syn­drome (PCOS), a hor­monal dis­or­der that af­fects girls in their teens and women in their re­pro­duc­tive age of 16-30 years. But worry not, as mak­ing some lifestyle changes can help you bat­tle the dis­or­der. “Ev­ery third pa­tient en­ter­ing the clinic to­day is suf­fer­ing from PCOS. A lifestyle tweak can help you re­verse the prob­lems be­fore they harm your body,” says Madhu Goel, gy­nae­col­o­gist, Saket City Hos­pi­tal.

Causes

The cause of PCOS is usu­ally un­known. Women suf­fer­ing from PCOS have small cysts in their ovaries, which can per­sist even when one does not have PCOS. Cysts do not al­ways mean you have PCOS.

Ge­netic ori­gin: Know your fam­ily med­i­cal history well, as that can also play a role in the dis­ease. “The cause of PCOS is not fully un­der­stood, but ge­net­ics may be a fac­tor.

It seems to run in fam­i­lies, so your chance of hav­ing it is higher if women in your fam­ily have it, or have ir­reg­u­lar pe­ri­ods or di­a­betes,” says Nupur Gupta, gy­nae­col­o­gist, Well Woman Clinic, Gur­gaon.

Hor­monal Im­bal­ance:

Raised level of an­dro­gen (male hor­mone) can also be a cause. Lutein­is­ing hor­mone (LH) that stim­u­lates ovu­la­tion tends to have an ab­nor­mal ef­fect on the ovaries if pro­duced more than the op­ti­mum level. Low level of sex hor­mone bind­ing glob­u­lin (SHBG) that con­trols the testos­terone level is counted as another cause. Raised level of pro­lactin can also cause PCOD in some. Mal­func­tion of in­sulin

sys­tem: “Women with PCOS have in­sulin re­sis­tance. This means that their body cells are re­sis­tant to the ef­fect of nor­mal level of in­sulin. More in­sulin is then pro­duced to keep the blood-sugar nor­mal. This raised level in the blood­stream is thought to be the main rea­son why PCOS de­vel­ops,” says Neena Bahl, gy­nae­col­o­gist, For­tis La Femme, Delhi.

Symp­toms

The first symp­tom is men­strual dis­tur­bance, and it ap­pears grad­u­ally. “Men­strual cy­cle may not be as­so­ci­ated with ovu­la­tion and can re­sult in heavy bleed­ing. Women can have ir­reg­u­lar pe­ri­ods, light pe­ri­ods or no pe­ri­ods at all,” says Bahl.

A raised level of an­dro­gen can have its own af­ter-ef­fects. The symp­toms in­clude acne, ex­cess hair growth and thin­ning of hair. One could also suf­fer from obe­sity, dan­druff, dark­en­ing of skin, es­pe­cially in skin folds of neck and armpits, mood swings, high choles­terol and high blood pres­sure. How­ever, not all symp­toms may be present, ex­cept ir­reg­u­lar men­stru­a­tion.

Di­ag­no­sis

If you have any of these symp­toms, visit a gy­nae­col­o­gist or en­docri­nol­o­gist. There is no spe­cific test to rule out PCOS. “It is di­ag­nosed through a phys­i­cal ex­am­i­na­tion, blood tests and ul­tra­sound,” says Gupta.

Phys­i­cal Exam: It in­cludes blood pres­sure check and pelvic exam. The lat­ter is im­por­tant to find out if a woman has en­larged or ab­nor­mal ovaries. Phys­i­cal exam also in­cludes the check of thy­roid glands, skin, hair, breasts and stom­ach.

Ul­tra­sound: An ul­tra­sound checks the ovaries and thick­ness of lin­ing of uterus. If it shows en­larged ovaries and small cysts, you have to un­dergo treat­ment as they are symp­toms of PCOS.

Other lab tests: The blood and hor­monal ex­am­i­na­tion also help rule out PCOS. It is im­por­tant to check choles­terol and triglyc­eride lev­els, over­ac­tive or un­der­ac­tive thy­roid glands and the lev­els of an­dro­gen, adrenal glands and pro­lactin.

Risk fac­tors: Apart from in­fer­til­ity, it is also a silent killer as its long-term health ef­fects can lead to se­ri­ous ail­ments. You can also suf­fer from sleep ap­noea, which is pauses in breath­ing or ir­reg­u­lar breath­ing dur­ing sleep. “With PCOS, the risk of en­dome­trial can­cer and breast can­cer also in­creases, so it very im­por­tant to get the right treat­ment,” says Goel.

Stick­ing to a well-bal­anced, nu­tri­tional diet helps man­age weight

Avoid late night bing­ing and cut down on sugar in­take

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