Women are seen ignoring health in several ways. The outcomes of this negligence or lack of awareness is very intricate. One such impact is visibly seen on their fertility. Personal health and hygiene play pivotal role in a woman’s physical ability to conceive.
PCOS is one such health condition which has been found to affect one out of 10 women in their childbearing age. Let’s discover the details of PCOS so that we can deal with it effectively.
What is PCOS?
PCOS or Polycystic Ovary Syndrome is one of the common causes of infertility in women. It creates a hormonal imbalance and induces metabolism related problems. This affects their overall health and appearance. This hormonal disorder affects around 12-18% of women of reproductive age.
Causes of PCOS
The exact cause of PCOS has not been identified yet. However, experts predict some of the following factors at play:
- Family History: Immediate female relatives of women with PCOS double the chance of having PCOS.
- Androgens: The so called male hormone – Androgens are produced in very small quantity in women. Increase in androgen levels in women can stimulate extra hair growth and acne. It is also disrupts the ovulation during each menstrual cycle.
- Insulin Resistance: Insulin is a hormone which regulates the conversion of food into energy. When the body cells do not respond normally to insulin, condition of insulin resistance gets created. This is common in women with PCOS, especially those who are overweight, follow unhealthy eating habits, sedentary lifestyle etc.
Symptoms of PCOS
It is challenging to identify the symptoms of PCOS. The symptoms are diverse and not every woman with PCOS shows the same symptoms. Some of the reported symptoms of PCOS are:
- Irregular menstrual cycle: Women with PCOS may have fewer periods. It can be less than eight in a year. In other cases, they may get periods every 21 days or more often. Some may stop having menstrual periods.
- Excessive growth of unwanted hair: “Hirsutism” is seen in almost 70% of women with PCOS. In this condition, women have hair growth in those parts of the body where men usually have hair including their face and chin.
- Darkening of skin: This is more prevalent around neck creases, groin and underneath the breasts.
- Weight gain i.e. these women tend to be overweight or obese. Also, they experience extreme difficulty in losing weight.
- Skin tags some women may develop skin tags (excess flaps of skin) in the region of armpits and neck.
- Frequent mood swings and depression are seen in women with PCOS.
- Acne can develop on the face, chest and upper back.
- Thinning of hair or hair loss on the scalp and male-pattern baldness may be witnessed.
Links with other health problems
Studies reveal that PCOS can lead to other health problems such as:
More than 50% women with PCOS are diagnosed with either diabetes or pre-diabetes (glucose intolerance) before the age of 40.
- Hypertension: Women with PCOS pose higher risk of having high blood pressure in comparison to women of same age without PCOS. High blood pressure can further lead to heart disease and stroke.
- Endometrial Cancer: Women with PCOS face problems related to ovulation, obesity, insulin resistance and diabetes. This increases the risk of developing cancer of endometrium (lining of the uterus or womb).
- Depression and anxiety are common in women suffering with PCOS.
- Sleep apnea: Sleep apnea is a condition in which sleep is disturbed by momentary and repeated stops in breathing. Obesity couple with PCOS causes sleep apnea. Sleep apnea increases risk against higher cholesterol levels, heart disease and diabetes.
Treatment of PCOS
PCOShas no cure till date. Don’t worry; it is possible to effectively manage the symptoms of PCOS. A gynecologist is the right person for seeking advice. Basic information which prepares you mentally is provided here.
1. Personal care and hygiene
Personal care and hygiene is very important for good health. The same holds true for treating PCOS also.
Losing weight: Obesity is a major health concern which is also responsible for PCOS. Regular exercise and good food habits bring relief from PCOS-related symptoms. Weight loss lowers your blood glucose levels and increases the use of insulin in the body. It also aids to regulate the hormonal balance. This can regularize your menstrual cycle improving chances of pregnancy.
Clean underparts: One should keep their private parts clean. You can use facial hair removal creams, to remove excess hair. Laser hair removal or electrolysis can be considered on doctor’s advice.
Several medications including anti- estrogen medication can be suggested by your doctor. Treatment may vary depending on the symptoms, your plans related to pregnancy, related health risks.
‘Prevention is better than cure’ works best with PCOS. And, in case it’s already there, consult your gynecologist immediately.