Polycystic Ovary Syndrome or PCOS is a condition caused due to imbalance of hormones that can affect women and girls of reproductive age. Although it is a common ovulatory disorder, at least 70% of women with PCOS remain undiagnosed in primary care. In India, one in every 10 women suffers from PCOS. September is celebrated as PCOS Awareness Month to spread awareness and education about PCOS amongst women, girls, healthcare professionals and the public in general. We talked to Mr Harsh Choksi, Medical Advisor on why it is important to start the conversation on PCOS and how can we make the lives of the affected women better and help them prevent or reduce Polycystic Ovary Syndrome symptoms.
What is Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)?
“PCOS is a symptom or a group of symptoms that can affect ovaries and ovulation and have an impact on menstrual cycles, fertility, hormones and characteristics of overall appearance. It can also affect women’s long-term health. It affects 5-10% of women of reproductive age. PCOS is also called the Stein-Leventhal syndrome.
The word “polycystic” means “multiple cysts”. PCOS affects a woman’s ovaries, the reproductive organs that produce hormones regulating the menstrual cycle. Due to hormonal imbalance, polycystic ovaries are slightly larger than usual and have twice the number of follicles or “cysts” (fluid-filled spaces within the ovary that release the eggs when a woman ovulates).
However, having polycystic ovaries does not mean you have polycystic ovary syndrome. Around 6 or 7 in 100 (6–7%) of women with polycystic ovaries have PCOS.
What are the symptoms of PCOS?
Polycystic Ovary Syndrome Symptoms are otherwise undetectable. However with the right information and awareness, women can detect these symptoms and immediately consult their gynecologists. If you find any of the below symptoms in your body, talk to your doctor to get help-
The symptoms vary from woman to woman. Some women have very few mild symptoms, while a wider range of symptoms affects others more severely. But it is important for us to have that conversation to help women get help.
What causes PCOS?
The underlying cause of PCOS is yet unknown. Experts believe a lot of factors including genetics play a role. If any of your relatives (mother, aunts, and sisters) are affected with PCOS, your risk of developing PCOS may be increased.
However we can attribute the symptoms to abnormal hormone levels:
What could PCOS mean for women’s long-term health?
Women affected by PCOS, are at greater risk of developing long-term health problems like diabetes, high blood pressure, depression and cancer. Hence it is important that the Polycystic Ovary Syndrome symptoms are not ignored.
What can I do to reduce long-term effects of PCOS?
One can follow simple easy steps at home to combat with PCOS, by keeping their weight in check and leading a healthy lifestyle.
Leading a Healthy Lifestyle
The main ways to reduce your overall risk of long-term health problems are to:
Is PCOS Treatable?
Medical treatments aim to manage and reduce the symptoms or consequences of having PCOS. Medication alone has not been shown to be any better than healthy lifestyle changes (weight loss and exercise). Many women with PCOS successfully manage their symptoms and long-term health risks without medical intervention. They do this by eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly and maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
PCOS needs to be talked about more so that more women can seek the help they need. This September, let’s spread awareness about PCOS and fight it together!”