Business Today - - THE BREAKOUT ZONE - By E. Kumar Sharma

IF YOU ARE A WO­MAN aged be­tween 20 and 40, and ex­pe­ri­enc­ing spe­cific syn­dromes such as se­vere acne, dark skin patches, ex­ces­sive hair growth on face or stom­ach, weight gain or ir­reg­u­lar/no pe­ri­ods, these could be warn­ing signs. You need to see your doc­tor and find out whether you are suf­fer­ing from polycystic ovary syn­drome, or PCOS, a hor­monal im­bal­ance that af­fects a wo­man’s ovaries. Di­ag­nos­ing PCOS is not dif­fi­cult, though. You should ei­ther go for a sim­ple blood test to check the level of an­dro­gen (a male hor­mone) or get an ul­tra­sound done to find out if you have cysts in the ovaries. Left un­treated for a long time, it could re­sult in di­a­betes, hy­per­ten­sion, heart con­di­tions and other obe­sity-re­lated is­sues as well as de­layed preg­nancy, a risk of abor­tion or in­fer­til­ity.

Glob­ally, one in five women of re­pro­duc­tive age gets af­fected, but very few get the right di­ag­no­sis early on as the con­di­tion has not re­ceived a lot of at­ten­tion. “PCOS is on the rise,” ad­mits Dr Sapna Raina, Se­nior Con­sul­tant, Depart­ment of Ob­stet­rics and Gy­nae­col­ogy, at Narayana Health, Bengaluru. “Un­for­tu­nately, many of the women ex­ec­u­tives who con­sult me have some form of PCOS. It is a grow­ing trend and has dou­bled over the past five years or so.”

Doc­tors point to sev­eral fac­tors be­hind PCOS, and list obe­sity and stress as sig­nif­i­cant risk fac­tors. The con­di­tion could also be ge­netic. It could be typ­i­cally linked to the kind of life­style most work­ing women have nowa­days – seden­tary and stress­ful with rapid changes in work sched­ules.

What can women do to pre­vent or con­trol the con­di­tion as there is

no cure yet? A good start­ing point is to lose weight and keep it off. A fit body will ward off many prob­lems, in­clud­ing hor­monal im­bal­ance. Take to more phys­i­cal ac­tiv­ity – walk, climb the stairs, walk up to a col­league’s desk in­stead of speak­ing over the phone. Watch out for pe­ri­ods is­sues and visit a doc­tor if there are ir­reg­u­lar­i­ties. It also helps when you go for healthy eat­ing. A high-fi­bre, low-carb diet with min­i­mum sugar in­take is al­ways rec­om­mended. For over­weight pa­tients, weight loss, ex­er­cise and life­style changes are rec­om­mended as ini­tial op­tions. Women suf­fer­ing from meta­bolic com­pli­ca­tions such as di­a­betes or hy­per­ten­sion at an early age and plan­ning for a baby might be pre­scribed in­sulin sen­si­tis­ers such as met­formin, thi­a­zo­lidine­dione or clomiphene cit­rate.

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