Common yet unheard of: PCOS


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The issues related to women’s sexual, menstrual and reproductive health are severely stigmatised, under discussed and more often than not there are myths created surrounding them. The society that we live in has shunned and shamed women for mere bodily functions they have no control over.

Every one in 10 woman across the country suffers from PCOS, and out of every 10 women diagnosed with it 6 are teenage girls according to a study done by the PCOS society of India. Even after it being this common an issue amongst half the population it is rarely addressed, most women aren’t even aware of the existence this disorder. Every year on 1st September, the world PCOS day is celebrated worldwide to promote awareness about PCOS and to support those suffering from it, September is also regarded as PCOS awareness month. 

This raises the question of, what exactly is PCOS?

The abbreviation stands for polycystic ovary syndrome. It is understood as a hormonal disorder that commonly affects women during their reproductive age which is 15-49 years according to the WHO. It is considered to be a chronic disease which required medical diagnoses and attention. 

PCOS usually develops around women’s first menstrual cycle and can occur at any age after puberty. Most women who suffer from the syndrome only realise it in their 20s and 30s and consult doctors. 

Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) – Symptoms & Treatment | Parkway East  Hospital


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As the name suggests PCOS causes polycystic ovaries, which is considered to be the enlargement of ovaries and the formation of cysts over or in them. According to the NHS UK, ovarian cysts are fluid-filled sacs or pockets that develop on an ovary. These can lead to pelvic pain, inflation, difficulty in urinating and several other symptoms. 

The name PCOS is said to be undermining and misleading, since there are several other disorders this can cause and not only polycystic ovaries.      

It is often a collection of issues which come together to form the syndrome, the most identifiable of these symptoms are irregular menstrual cycles, once a month the pituitary gland signals the ovaries to release mature eggs into the uterus via the fallopian tubes. PCOS hinders this process, women can miss their cycles, and they can become infrequent or extended than usual. It can also cause the ovary to release immature egg which in turn causes infertility. 

Another symptom of PCOS is hormonal imbalance. Hormones are chemicals released into the blood stream to carry out specific functions. Majorly women suffering from the syndrome have excessive levels of androgens which are ordinarily known as male hormones, though these are present in female bodies as well. Elevated levels of this hormone can also cause irregular menstrual cycles along with excess growth of facial and body hair, acne and hair loss. In addition to androgen the body also does not react to insulin, the hormone which regulates blood sugar levels, this leads to diabetes which in itself is a chronic and severe disease. The lack of progesterone, the hormone related to menstruation and pregnancy, can also cause women to miss their cycles or have prolonged ones. 

Some of the other prevalent symptoms include mood swings, obesity or sudden weigh gain, darkening of the skin, development of skin tags and pelvic pain. There are various other health complications linked to PCOS like high blood pressure, researches show that women with the syndrome are more likely to be affected by hypertension than other women. It can also cause elevated levels of LDL, which is bad cholesterol. Depression and anxiety are also link to PCOS. Most severely it can cause cancer in the uterine lining which is also known as endometrial cancer. 

The Link Between PCOS and Diabetes

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So what causes PCOS and can it be treated?

While there are several factors that cause the symptoms, the exact cause of PCOS remains unknown; but it is linked to hereditary or genetics and environmental factors. It has been concluded that women who suffer from obesity and their mothers or sisters have the syndrome are highly likely to get it as well. 

PCOS cannot be diagnosed using one single test. Doctors usually diagnose the syndrome based on the patient’s and their family’s medical history, symptoms, menstruation patterns and physicals exams like pelvic test or ultrasound to determine the condition of ovaries. Test for the measurement of hormone levels, blood sugar and cholesterol can be used as well. 

Similarly PCOS as whole cannot be treated and the treatment is based on individual concerns and bodies, but its symptoms can be regulated. Medicines including hormonal birth control can help fix irregularities in the menstrual cycle; other medications can increase chances of fertility and can help in management of hormonal imbalances. Losing weight can have a very positive effect on the syndrome and can help medications work more effectively. 

PCOS Polycystic Ovary Syndrome - Maple Leaf Medical Centre Edgars Road GP  Clinic

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Women need to be educated on such issues and taught to stay vigilant and observant of their bodies and the changes it goes through, from a young age. This will help diagnose these issues at an early age and can be struck down at the root.



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