Living with PCOS: Between 2.2 and 26.7 percent of women in 15-44 age group have PCOS.
An increasing number of women in the reproductive age are suffering from a hormonal disorder called Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS).
An estimated one in five (20%) Indian women, approximately 60% women in UAE have this condition and 6% to 12% of US women of reproductive age suffer from PCOS.
Basic understanding of PCOS
PCOS is a condition that can affect your periods, fertility, hormones and aspects of your appearance. It can also affect your long-term health. It affects all age groups and is more prevalent now due to our poor lifestyle i.e. sedentary life without any exercise, irregular routine, stress and the fast food culture. Polycystic ovaries are slightly larger than normal ovaries and have twice the number of follicles (fluid-filled spaces within the ovary that release the eggs when you ovulate). All women who have multiple follicles don’t have PCOS. The Diagnosis of PCOS is made only when the woman has symptoms.
The exact causes aren’t known at this time, but androgen levels that are higher than normal play an important part. Excess weight and family history which are in turn related to insulin resistance can also contribute.
Does being overweight cause PCOS? Does PCOS make you overweight? The relationship is complicated and not well understood. Being overweight is associated with PCOS, but many women of normal weight have PCOS, and many overweight women don’t.
Women whose mother or sister has PCOS or type 2 diabetes are more likely to develop PCOS.
…and Insulin Resistance
Lifestyle can have a big impact on insulin resistance, especially if a woman is overweight because of an unhealthy diet and lack of physical activity. Insulin resistance also runs in families. Losing weight will often help improve symptoms no matter what caused the insulin resistance.
What are the possible symptoms of PCOS?
- Irregular periods or no periods at all
- An increase in facial or body hair (hirsutism)
- Loss of hair on your head
- Being overweight, experiencing a rapid increase in weight or having difficulty losing weight
- Oily skin, acne
- Difficulty becoming pregnant (reduced fertility). This is because PCOS is associated with infrequent or absent egg production (ovulation)
Direct relation of PCOS and Diabetes:
Women with PCOS are often insulin resistant; their bodies can make insulin but can’t use it effectively, increasing their risk for type 2 diabetes. They also have higher levels of androgens (male hormones that females also have), which can stop eggs from being released (ovulation) and cause irregular periods, acne, thinning scalp hair, and excess hair growth on the face and body.
Women with PCOS can develop serious health problems, especially if they are overweight:
- Diabetes - more than half of women with PCOS develop type 2 diabetes by age 40
- Gestational diabetes (diabetes when pregnant) - which puts the pregnancy and baby at risk and can lead to type 2 diabetes later in life for both mother and child
- Heart disease - women with PCOS are at higher risk, and risk increases with age
- High blood pressure - which can damage the heart, brain, and kidneys
- High LDL (“bad”) cholesterol and low HDL (“good”) cholesterol - increasing the risk for heart disease
- Sleep apneaexternal icon - a disorder that causes breathing to stop during sleep and raises the risk for heart disease and type 2 diabetes
- Stroke - plaque (cholesterol and white blood cells) clogging blood vessels can lead to blood clots that in turn can cause a stroke
PCOS is also linked to depression and anxiety, though the connection is not fully understood.
It is advised to meet a health care professional incase of irregular monthly periods, are having trouble getting pregnant, or have excess acne or hair growth. If you’re told you have PCOS, ask about getting tested for type 2 diabetes and how to manage the condition if you have it. Making healthy changes such as losing weight if you’re overweight and increasing physical activity can lower your risk for type 2 diabetes, help you better manage diabetes, and prevent or delay other health problems.
There are also medicines that can help you ovulate, as well as reduce acne and hair growth.
Content source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention https://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/basics/pcos.html