Know PCOS for No PCOS

Polycystic ovarian syndrome, commonly known as PCOS is a hormonal imbalance affecting 5-10% of women. It is an extremely common condition affecting women from menstruation till menopause. As per a recently conducted survey, at least 50,000 women in the UAE suffer from Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS), which is expected to grow at a rate of 6.81 per cent till 2030.

PCOS is a condition which leads to a growth of multiple ovarian cysts, but the common belief is since it has to do with cysts, medication or surgery may cure the condition. People also often think that overweight/ obese women specifically suffer from the condition. The occurrence of PCOS is not solely dependent on the weight of women, although excess body weight does pose an issue. Women affected by this condition have a disproportion in the levels of sex hormones, estrogen and progesterone.

This condition affects the proper functioning of the ovaries causing irregular periods, inability to conceive, unwanted hair growth, acne, along with long term implications of having diabetes, high BP and cholesterol, and even cancer of the womb.

PCOS has no definite cause, various reasons may lead to women developing the condition. Girls as young as 11 could develop PCOS. PCOS has no definite cause irrespective of the race, geography or ethnicity of women. It may be caused due to genetic factors, i.e. if your mother or aunt has PCOS, you are more likely to develop it, obesity and insulin resistance are also listed as leading to cause the condition. Genetic factors, hormonal imbalance are all causative agents of PCOS.

The type of symptoms experienced and the severity of the condition vary in women, there is no one size fits all for symptoms or treatments. Some women may experience a particular set of symptoms and others may experience symptoms differently. The most common symptom of PCOS is irregular menstrual flow. Most symptoms of PCOS are associated with hormonal imbalance. An increase of insulin in the body causes spotting or darkening of the skin. Irregular periods, excess facial hair, male pattern balding etc. are caused because of the imbalance of androgen, originally a male hormone which is usually present in women in moderate levels.

PCOS can cause infertility, as women with PCOS either do not ovulate regularly or do not ovulate at all. It is only a misconception that women with PCOS cannot conceive. However, women with PCOS can conceive with the help of various fertility treatments. Folate is one of the most important nutrients when it comes to women with PCOS who wish to conceive and improves pregnancy outcomes with PCOS. Folate is a water-soluble Vitamin B n that is naturally present in some foods, added to others, and available as a dietary supplement at other times. Some studies claim that anti-oxidants, zinc, soy, omega-3 fatty acids are supplements that have a positive effect in managing PCOS.

Women with PCOS need to get sufficient folic acid during pregnancy. Factors like increased age, the severity of the condition may alter results but fertility treatments are the solution for women with PCOS. Pregnancy success or failure depends on individual cases.

PCOS is a rather common condition for which there is no definitive cure since the root cause of PCOS is yet to be discovered. There is no treatment available to cure the condition permanently, although treatment can be offered to prevent long term health complications like diabetes, infertility, cancer of the womb and others. Individual symptoms can be treated through proper management, medications will be prescribed by the gynaecologist based on the severity of the condition. The only natural remedy to curb the condition is to follow a healthy balanced diet, exercise regularly and maintain a healthy body weight which will help women with PCOS lead a healthy life.

The best advice for women with PCOS is to understand the consequences of the condition and realize the importance of establishing a healthy routine and lifestyle and working in coordination with your doctor in order to prevent any further symptoms of PCOS and to control the existing symptoms. It may be difficult to cope with in the beginning but at an individual level, a lot can be done to minimize symptoms such as acne, obesity, hair loss etc.

Lifestyle changes play an extremely crucial role as they can influence symptoms. PCOS cannot be cured but the symptoms can be treated and managed. Lifestyle modifications can help manage the condition to a great extent. Though there are medicines like insulin sensitizers and food supplements, without exercise it may not be as effective as it should be.

Dr. Ann Mini Mathew 

Specialist Obstetrician & Gynaecologist 

Aster Hospital Mankhool

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