What is PCOS?
Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a hormonal disorder that is common among women of reproductive age i.e 15 to 44.
Women who have PCOS may undergo irregular or sometimes prolonged menstrual periods and their ovaries start producing very high levels of testosterone (male hormones).
Due to the interference of testosterone the ovaries may also develop numerous small collections of fluid (follicles) and fail to regularly release eggs for fertilization as the male hormone disrupts the normal ovulation process.
The exact cause of PCOS yet remains unknown. Early detection and treatment of PCOS can help stop further complications from arising which include heart conditions and type 2 diabetes.
Difference between PCOS and PCOD
Polycystic Ovarian Disease (PCOD) is a condition that is often confused with PCOS. Although these two conditions are pretty similar there are some marked differences.
The main difference between PCOS and PCOD is that the first one is a syndrome while the second one is a disease. It means that PCOS is a condition without a definite cause and treatment.
PCOD is more common than PCOS and does not affect fertility as much, because unlike in PCOS the ovaries do not stop producing eggs in PCOD. They might produce immature and partially mature eggs. PCOD happens due to poor lifestyle, obesity, stress, and hormonal imbalance. PCOD also does not lead to severe complications like PCOS.
Thus, one can say that PCOS is a much more severe form of PCOD in terms of its effects.
PCOS In India
Studies show that 1 in 5 women in India suffers from PCOS. The condition is more common in urban women. Also, a majority of women who suffer from PCOS are obese.
PCOS is one a rising lifestyle syndrome in the last few years. It is attributed to the modern lifestyle habits which put women’s minds and bodies under a lot of stress. The other causes include genetics and glycogen intolerance.
Causes and Symptoms
Although exact causes for PCOS have not been found, there are some significant factors that are believed to contribute to it:-
- Excess hormonal production like Insulin or Androgen
- Low-grade inflammation
- Hereditary Causes
Following are the symptoms of PCOS:-
- Irregular or skipped menstruation
- Heavy menstrual bleeding
- Excessive Hair growth due to increased testosterone levels
- Acne and bad scalp
- Rapid weight gain
- Pelvic pain
Some women start seeing symptoms of PCOS around the time of their first period, some women only discover them when they have gained a lot of weight or are having trouble getting pregnant.
Complications and health problems caused by PCOS
As these conditions are caused by hormonal imbalance or lifestyle causes in the case of PCOD, many further complications can happen. They are:-
- Infertility or hypertension Infertility
- Type 2 diabetes
- Metabolic syndrome (risk for high blood sugar, high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, and stroke)
- NASH (Non-alcoholic steatohepatitis)
- Depression (Many women end up experiencing depression and anxiety due to unwanted hair growth and other symptoms)
- Sleep apnea (More common in women who are overweight, causes repeated pauses in breathing during the night, which interrupt sleep)
- Endometrial cancer (Due to the thickened uterine lining)
- Miscarriage (spontaneous loss of pregnancy)
Increasing obesity can worsen most of these complications. Controlling weight gain is one of the most important factors in treating PCOS.
Diagnosis and Treatment
Depending on the occurrence of symptoms the doctor might recommend the following steps to determine the severity of PCOS.
- Pelvic examination
- Blood tests: Blood tests will help to understand the hormone levels
- Imaging test: Ultrasound imaging test to check the size of ovaries, the lining of the uterus, and cysts in ovaries
- Periodical monitoring of blood pressure, glucose tolerance, cholesterol, and triglyceride levels
- Screening for anxiety and depression
- Screening for obstructive sleep apnea (OSA)
Like diagnosis, the treatment of PCOS also depends on the patient’s individual symptoms as symptoms are numerous and can vary widely. Treatment usually starts with lifestyle changes to focus on weight loss as it helps a lot in regulating the menstrual cycle and complications like heart disease, diabetes, breathing problems, etc.
For those with PCOS, following a recommended diet, exercise routine, and precautions like quitting alcohol and smoking are very important.
In more severe cases the doctors can treat PCOS with medications to regulate hormones or by ovulation induction (OI) for infertility. If the patient does not respond to hormonal treatment a laparoscopic surgery might be undertaken to drill inside the ovaries and get rid of androgen-producing tissues.
If you or a family member of yours is suffering from the symptoms of PCOS then you must refer to DR. Puneet’s CIFAR clinic. CIFAR clinic boasts of the best gynecologists and fertility experts in Gurgaon.