What is Polycystic Ovary Syndrome?
Polycystic ovary syndrome also known as polycystic ovary disease is a complex hormonal condition. It is called a ‘’syndrome’’ because it comprises more than one symptom. It can be seen in women of childbearing age (15 to 45).
It is an endocrine disorder because of hormonal imbalance. Polycystic ovary syndrome is becoming prevalent nowadays. On average, it affects every 1 out of 15 women worldwide.
What Can Be the Possible Causes of Polycystic Ovary Syndrome?
The exact cause of Polycystic Ovary Syndrome is still unknown maybe because of lack of funding for the disorder but there are several factors that can cause PCOS which include:
Insulin Resistance Polycystic ovary syndrome:
80% of the total cases of Polycystic Ovary Syndrome are due to insulin resistance. Insulin is a hormone secreted by Pancreas and is used by the cells to get sugar which is essential for energy sources. Women whose cells become resistant to insulin tend to produce more insulin in turn which produces excessive insulin. The unwanted amount of insulin produced by the Pancreas stimulates the ovaries to produce male hormones (androgens) that are the most inevitable reason for Polycystic ovary syndrome.
Inflammatory Polycystic ovary syndrome:
The second most common cause of Polycystic Ovary Syndrome is Inflammation and is responsible for about 20%-30% of the total cases. Chronic stress, environmental toxins or poor diet leads to an increased inflammatory state and excessive production of androgens. It is diagnosed most commonly in women with a previous history of inflammatory disorders.
Androgens are the male hormones that are also produced in women but within a low amount. When these hormones start producing more than a normal range, the hormonal balance gets lost and the ovaries do not ovulate regularly. The woman suffering from this issue will face irregular or missed periods.
Your genes play a great role in determining the hormonal conditions. If your mother, sister or anyone else in the family has been a victim of Polycystic Ovary Syndrome then it’s possible for you to get it as a genetic disorder.
Obesity is known as the mother of all diseases and it’s true. The leading cause of Polycystic Ovary Syndrome among most women is obesity. Obesity and Polycystic Ovary Syndrome are interlinked. You cannot say that if PCOS causes obesity or obesity is the reason behind PCOS. More than Normal BMI causes several other disorders like cardiovascular diseases, hypertension, insulin resistance that leads to type-2 diabetes etc.
In India, a survey was conducted which showed that out of all the obese women, 20% of them had Polycystic ovary syndrome.
Stress is another factor responsible for Polycystic Ovary Syndrome. If a person is experiencing stress for a longer period, it will be called chronic stress. Stress automatically leads your adrenal hormones to produce in a large quantity and the hormones get out of balance. This condition causes the production of androgens and eventually PCOS.
Sedentary Life Style:
Women having a sedentary lifestyle can be an obvious victim of PCOS. Women who often take the diet that promotes insulin resistance and does not perform exercise are vulnerable to Polycystic Ovary Syndrome.
Signs and Symptoms of Polycystic Ovary Syndrome
There are multiple signs and symptoms of PCOS but it is not necessary for every woman to have all the symptoms at a time. Some may exhibit 2 or more symptoms and the others may have more. The signs and symptoms for Polycystic Ovary Syndrome are:
Irregular, infrequent, prolonged or missed periods is the main symptom of found in more than 50% of the women with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome. Due to disturbance in hormones, ovulation does not take place causing irregular periods.
A few women with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome also face acne issues that can be cured by taking some medications such as Flutamide or some creams related to acne.
Hirsutism is a condition in which there is more than normal hair growth on the face and body of a woman such as on the abdomen, chest, back, buttocks and legs.
Male Patterned Baldness:
A threatening condition or symptom includes male patterned baldness i.e. patches of hair shed from particular areas of the head rather than regular hair fall that can be combatted.
Some women develop tiny follicles around the ovaries that appear as sacs or cysts and are involved in capturing the eggs. The eggs are not released by the ovaries and eventually do not get mature, hence, ovulation fails.
Darkening of skin:
Polycystic Ovary Syndrome causes some areas of your body to turn darker such as under breasts, underarms, groin, under legs and necklines and is a symptom of the underlying disorder.
More than usual pelvic pain is another sign of Polycystic Ovary Syndrome followed by conditions like pelvic inflammation and pelvic disorders.
How Polycystic Ovary Syndrome can be diagnosed?
The diagnosis of PCOS does not depend on a single factor but it is done by evaluating several aspects. If you have 2 of 3 the following symptoms then your gynecologist will diagnose you with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome:
- Irregular Menses
- Unwanted hair growth
- Ovaries having immature follicles
Assessment Criteria for Polycystic Ovary Syndrome:
PCOS examination can be done by some tests such as:
Your gynecologist may perform a physical test by inserting fingers in the vagina for expected abnormalities.
A painless ultrasound is performed by using sound waves that capture the image of the uterus and determine the presence of ovarian cysts.
Hormonal tests for androgens
Certain hormonal tests can also be done to figure out which hormones are releasing more than the required amount and which are not producing up to the requirement.
Is Polycystic Ovary Syndrome Permanently Curable?
The answer to this question is that Polycystic Ovary Syndrome is not curable but it can be prevented and treated.
Prevention is always better than cure. You can prevent Polycystic Ovary Syndrome by having the proper diet and exercise required.
Changes in lifestyle can help to get your goals. Polycystic Ovary Syndrome cannot be cured but the checklist of symptoms can be managed by making some changes in your lifestyle.
Obese women are at greater risk of developing the condition and it can be due to multiple reasons. Reducing 5% to 10% weight can help a lot in managing PCOS.
Women with a sedentary lifestyle should exercise with medium intensity; frequency must be 3 times a week at least.
Changes in Diet:
Changing your eating habits aids a lot in treating Polycystic Ovary Syndrome. A diet having low carbohydrates, low GI and required protein in every meal is the key. You do not have to give up on your favorite foods but you can use an alternative ingredient which makes your symptoms worse.
Having 8 hours of sleep, regulating your sleep pattern and avoiding stress will prove beneficial.
What is the Treatment for Polycystic Ovary Syndrome?
Treatment of PCOS is dependent on whether you want to get pregnant or not.
Women with Pregnancy concerns:
Women who want to be pregnant can achieve this goal by using certain medications that will help them out to have a healthy pregnancy.
Women who do not want pregnancy:
Women who put pregnancy aside and want to treat Polycystic Ovary Syndrome can be succeeded by:
Birth control pills
Birth control pills are a better option if you are dealing with menstrual issues like irregular periods or heavy periods.
Medications controlling blood sugar
Certain medicine likes Metformin can act as a lifesaver for people dealing with serious insulin resistance and diabetes issue.
Other symptoms like excessive hair growth on the face and body, acne and sleep disorders can be overcome by using relevant medicines and supplements.
What Are Expected Complications If you Get PCOS?
As Polycystic Ovary Syndrome is a syndrome with multiple symptoms, consequently, it can cause several complications that may include:
The chances of infertility within women with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome are greater than other women because of higher levels of androgens and irregular periods. All these factors hinder ovulation and it gets difficult to get pregnant or enjoy a healthy pregnancy either.
Teens nowadays are at high risk of getting Polycystic Ovary Syndrome due to unhealthy eating habits. This can have an adverse effect on their mental condition causing psychological disorders like depression due to Polycystic Ovary Syndrome. Excessive and unwanted hair growing all over the body and face, stubborn acne and fat stuck in the abdominal region become a reason for embarrassment sometimes. Even if you are constantly trying your best to manage the symptoms, you can eventually be a victim of depression.
According to a large-scale survey in India 2019, 11% of the women aged between 20 years-29 years were subjected to Polycystic Ovary Syndrome.
For Hirsutism you can remove excessive hair by following ways:
By waxing your hair, the hair follicles become weak and it reduces the number of hair over time but it is a time taking process so you can go for other alternative methods as well.
Threading can also be done to remove excessive hair but it does not reduce the net hair count.
3. Laser hair removal:
Laser hair removal is the most suitable and safe option for getting rid of excessive hair growth all over the body.
Cancer of Endometrium:
The endometrium is the middle layer of the uterus in women that sheds monthly when a woman is on her periods which we call menstruation. Women with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome are susceptible to endometrial cancer because the endometrium gets thicker and thicker if you do not ovulate regularly or you are not having your periods within the normal cycle i.e. 28 days to 35 days.
High blood pressure or hypertension is the condition of having higher levels of blood pressure within your blood vessels than normal. Women with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome are more prone to hypertension.
Higher Level of Blood Sugar:
In PCOS, the cells are unable to use insulin and subsequently, there is excessive production of insulin from the pancreas and you are at risk of developing type 2 Diabetes.
The levels of blood cholesterol, fats and carbs are higher in Polycystic Ovary Syndrome; hence, cardiovascular disorders are also a common complication.
Sleep Apnea Syndrome:
Sleep apnea and insomnia are the serious complications that women can develop if she is suffering from Polycystic Ovary Syndrome. Sleep apnea involves breathing problems that may interrupt normal sleep patterns.
What Are the Myths and Misconceptions Associated with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome?
- Women who are overweight can have the disorder only but the fact is contrary to it because lean PCOS also exists.
- It can only be treated with pills
- Seed Cycling gives 100% results for treating PCOS
- You cannot get pregnant if you have got PCOS
- Every woman with PCOS has polycystic ovaries
Polycystic ovary syndrome PCOS or Polycystic ovary disease PCOD is the same condition involving metabolic disorders and hormonal imbalance. Its consists of several signs and symptoms such as hirsutism, acne, irregular periods etc. and may lead to a number of possible complications (infertility, depression, type 2 diabetes etc.) for the women being diagnosed by PCOS. The diagnosis for PCOS can be done by taking several factors in account. The tests for PCOS can also be done to confirm the condition in the woman under examination. Treatment of PCOS depends on the variety and severance of the symptoms. There are several myths and misconceptions regarding polycystic ovary syndrome whereas the facts are contrary to it.