Have you been experiencing horrible painful acne near the chin and cheek areas that just don’t go away, even with dermatological acne medication, or hair in areas of the face you did not expect? Is your monthly period calendar seeing erratic cross marks and gaps?
Have you been experiencing sudden increase in hair fall ?
May be its time to look for answers not from dermatologists or trichologists but a gynaecologist or an endocrinologist.
There has been awareness on PCOS or PCOD amongst women in the recent years and more and more women have started to be aware of this condition and look for signs and symptoms. But still quite a few amongst us go undetected due to lack of knowledge and awareness.
In this article we will provide some insights on this condition and how to manage it and treat it on time.
Lets start with the most common question.
WHAT IS PCOS?
Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a condition that affects the hormone levels in a woman’s body. If you are suffering from PCOS you will have higher amounts of male hormones due to hormonal imbalance ( of course blood tests are needed to determine this) and also can cause to skip menstrual periods and difficulty in conceiving.
PCOS also causes hair growth on the face and body, and baldness. And it can contribute to long-term health problems like diabetes and heart disease.
Many women have PCOS but are not aware of it. Statistics have shown that many women with PCOS have not even been diagnosed.
PCOS effects the ovaries and the ovulation pattern which in turn develops cysts in the ovaries, secret high levels of male hormones in the body and causes irregular periods or skips them.
According to the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, PCOS effects up to 27% of the women during child bearing years.
Though the exact causes for PCOS are not known but a lot is linked to our Genes, insulin resistance and inflammation in our body.
Of course many genes and not just one contributes to this condition.
If there is a history of diabetes in the family there are chances of you being detected for PCOS. Up to 70 % of women have insulin resistance meaning the body is incapable of utilizing the insulin secreted by it, properly. Insulin helps to regulate the sugar levels in our body. If that is not regulated then the extra insulin triggers the production of male hormones in the body.
Obesity is one of the major influencer of insulin resistance and also may increase the risk of type 2 diabetes.
COMMON SYMPTOMS TO LOOK OUT FOR
According to Mayo Clinic infrequent, irregular or prolonged menstrual cycles are the most common sign of PCOS. For example, you might have fewer than nine periods a year, more than 35 days between periods and abnormally heavy periods.
You may observe the periods you do get can be heavier than normal.
More than 70 percent of women with this condition grow hair on their face and body, including on their back, belly, and chest.
Male hormones can make the skin oilier than usual and cause breakouts on areas like the face, chest, and upper back.
Up to 80 percent of women with PCOS are overweight or obese.
Hair on the scalp gets thinner and falls out.
Darkening of the skin-
Dark patches of skin can form in body creases like those on the neck, in the groin, and under the breasts.
Hormone changes can trigger headaches in some women.
According to Mayo Clinic, PCOS can have the below-mentioned effects on the body;
Gestational diabetes or pregnancy-induced high blood pressure
Miscarriage or premature birth
Nonalcoholic steatohepatitis — a severe liver inflammation caused by fat accumulation in the liver
Metabolic syndrome — a cluster of conditions including high blood pressure, high blood -sugar, and abnormal cholesterol or triglyceride levels that significantly increase your risk of cardiovascular disease
Type 2 diabetes or prediabetes
Depression, anxiety and eating disorders
Abnormal uterine bleeding
Cancer of the uterine lining (endometrial cancer)
DIET AND LIFESTYLE CHANGE
A healthy diet and a stress-free lifestyle can contribute a lot towards healing PCOS.
Since obesity can cause even more complications due to PCOS, it would be a good wake-up call for regular exercise and aiming to lose at least 10 % of your body weight.
Studies have shown, eating a low GI diet to be more effective for managing PCOS and lowering insulin levels. Try incorporating more of –
Selected low sugar fruits
Of course, a combination of daily moderate exercise with a healthy diet can help manage the symptoms even better.
WHEN TO SEE THE DOCTOR
Although there are some common medical treatments like birth control pills, Metformin, Laser hair removal, and more, please avoid self-medicating. See your doctor immediately if you have concerns about your menstrual periods, if you’re experiencing infertility or if you have signs of excess androgen such as worsening hirsutism(growth of hair in unwanted places!) acne, and male-pattern baldness.