Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) is the most common hormonal disorder in women of reproductive age (from the beginning of a woman’s periods to their end at menopause). PCOS affects one in every five women, many of whom do not have a diagnosis. This year, sedentary lifestyle because of COVID19 has led to a tremendous increase in PCOS among women.
What causes PCOS
The causes of PCOS are yet unknown but it is mainly attributed to both genetic as well as environmental factors. Women with PCOS often have a mother or sister with the condition and there is still research going on about the role that genetics or gene mutations might play in the development. Environmental risk factors, including low birth weight, rapid weight gain in infancy, early puberty development, childhood obesity, excess adult weight and unhealthy lifestyle may also interact with genes to lead to PCOS.
What causes the symptoms of PCOS
When there are higher than normal levels of hormones called androgens in a woman’s body, it leads to PCOS.
The ovaries produce hormones- estrogens, also called as female hormones as women produce it more than the men, and androgens, which are male hormones as men have more levels of these hormones. It is when these hormones are out of balance in a woman’s body – higher than normal levels of androgens and lower levels of estrogens that women become symptomatic of PCOS.
Insulin, another of body’s hormones, also plays a big factor in PCOS. When cells that use sugar from the bloodstream as energy do not respond normally to insulin, blood sugar levels rise, leading to a rise in insulin levels. Too much insulin increases the production of androgens, thus causing symptoms of PCOS.
Symptoms of PCOS
Irregular periods/Reduced fertility- if you have PCOS, chances are, your periods are irregular. High levels of insulin and androgens can disrupt the monthly cycle of ovulation and menstruation. In severe cases, as menstrual cycle lengthens, periods may stop altogether. This often leads to difficulty in getting pregnant. But with proper medication, this can be reversed. Visit our expert endocrinologists or gynaecologist, ——— at www.boardofdoctors.com to manage the symptoms of PCOS
Hirsutism (excess hair)- High levels of androgens due to PCOS, stimulate the hair follicles leading to hirsutism or excess dark and thick hair on the chin, upper lip, lower abdomen, chest and thighs, typically in those areas where it is usual for a man to grow hair. We have medical experts at www.boardofdoctors.com who can guide you with the best course of action to combat hirsutism.
Alopecia (hair loss)- Women with PCOS sometimes face hair loss or thinning of the scalp hair due to the high levels of androgens.
Acne- Women with PCOS face acute acne as the higher level of androgens can increase the size of the oil production glands on the skin, which can lead to increased acne. Rough, dark, velvety patches of skin can also develop in women with PCOS in the armpits or neck area called acanthosis nigricans. Dermatologist Dr. Mukta Sachdev says, “
Depression/Anxiety– Depression, low self-esteem, body image issues are common symptoms of PCOS, arising from severe acne, weight gain, fertility issues and hirsutism which occur because of PCOS. These issues have to be handled sensitively. Fortunately, there are expert counsellors who can help you overcome your fear and anxieties regarding the same. Our specialist counsellor, Dr. —— has years of experience and is just the right doctor to help you understand and deal with the changes one goes through because of PCOS.
Diabetes – On an average, most women with PCOS suffer from type 2 diabetes before the age of 40. Obesity, associated with PCOS, not only compounds the problem of insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes, but also imparts cardiovascular risks. PCOS and obesity are associated with a higher risk of developing high blood pressure, that increase the chances of developing cardiovascular disease. Reducing the medical risks from PCOS-associated obesity is important. You may consult our super specialist endocrinologist, Dr —– at www.boardofdoctors.com to manage anything related to diabetes or insulin resistance.
Tests and Diagnosis
It is not possible to determine the presence of PCOS with one single test, but a doctor can diagnose the condition through medical history, a physical exam that includes a pelvic exam, and blood tests to measure hormone, cholesterol, and glucose levels. A sonography is also recommended to examine cysts in the ovaries. Other disorders that mimic the clinical features of PCOS should also be tested: thyroid disease, high prolactin levels, and non-classical congenital adrenal hyperplasia
While there is no cure for PCOS, treatments are available to manage the symptoms that affect an individual.
There are several recommended treatment options, including:
Birth control pills: These can help regulate hormones and menstruation.
Diabetes medications: These helps manage diabetes, if necessary.
Fertility medications: If pregnancy is desired, follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) and luteinizing hormone (LH) medications are advised.
Fertility treatments: These include in-vitro fertilization (IVF) or inseminations.
Medicines may also be given to control excessive hair growth.
Other possible options to manage hair growth is laser hair removal, and hormonal treatments.
Surgical options include:
- Ovarian drilling:Tiny holes made in the ovaries can reduce the levels of androgens being produced.
- Oophorectomy:Surgery removes one or both ovaries.
- Hysterectomy:This involves removal of all or part of the uterus.
- Cyst aspiration:Fluid is removed from the cyst.
PCOS has no cure but it can be managed by making some lifestyle changes.
- Eating a healthy, well-balanced diet including plenty of fruits and vegetables
- Regular physical activity
- Maintaining a healthy weight, to reduce androgen levels and reduce the risk of diseases such as diabetes and heart disease
- Not smoking, as this increases levels of androgens and the risk of heart disease
- No stress
- Good eight-hour sleep
- Avoiding junk food and sweets
The causes of PCOS are unclear, but early diagnosis can help relieve symptoms and reduce the risk of complications. It is advised to consult a doctor if you have PCOS.
The Endocrinology experts on the Board of Doctors platform are Dr Priya Chinnappa & Dr Kavitha Bhat and Specialist Gynaecologists are Dr Prathima Reddy, Dr Philomena Vaz, Dr Amrita Rao, Dr Saba Fathima. Just click on www.boardofdoctors.com to get an online appointment with our super specialist doctors without any hassles.