Health Facts

Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)

Essentially, PCOS is a hormonal disorder that is becoming more common in Indian women and girls during their reproductive years. In fact, one in every five women in India (22.5 percent) has PCOS, with the majority impacted falling between the ages of 15 and 40years. Unfortunately, the alarming fallouts of urban living and a general lack of awareness about this health condition are blamed for this rising danger.

As the name suggests, most women with PCOS have numerous cysts of varying sizes in one or both ovaries. They may also produce excessive amounts of the male hormone androgen, inhibiting ovarian follicle maturation and egg release to cause a wide range of PCOS symptoms.

Additionally, if left undiagnosed or unchecked, the disorder can even lead to the risk of other serious medical complications, such as inability to conceive, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, miscarriage or stillbirth, gestational diabetes, hypertension, sleep apnea, depression, anxiety, and in some cases, gynecological cancer.

Common symptoms of PCOS

PCOS can cause several telltale symptoms, although these symptoms aren’t always uniform. Some of the most common PCOS symptoms that you might experience include:

Irregular, missed, prolonged or heavy period

Excessive hair growth on the face, chin, chest, stomach, and back (hirsutism)

Presence of cysts in one or both ovaries

Weight gain, especially around the waist

Thinning hair on the scalp

Pelvic pain

Infertility

Acne or oily skin

Darkened skin on the neck creases, underneath the breasts, or thighs

Causes of PCOS

Presently, the exact reasons for some women getting PCOS aren’t clearly understood. However, most experts believe that PCOS is a multifactorial metabolic disorder influenced by genetic, hormonal, environmental, and lifestyle factors that cause increased hormonal imbalances(testosterone) contributing to symptoms of PCOS.

  • Family history of PCOS
  • Insulin resistance
  • Excessive secretion of androgens (male hormones)
  • Obesity
  • Lack of physical exercise
  • Unhealthy diet habits
  • Improper sleep schedule
  • Chronic inflammation
  • Poor immunity

Diagnosis and Treatment

There is no single definitive test to diagnose PCOS. Although your doctor will take note of your symptoms, ask about your medical history, and perform a pelvic exam. You will also have blood tests to measure your hormone, blood sugar, and cholesterol levels.  Ovarian ultrasonography may also be carried out to inspect your ovaries for cysts and uterine lining for tumors.

In terms of treatment, there is still no complete cure for PCOS. However, depending on your age, symptoms, and desire to become pregnant in the future, your doctor may recommend lifestyle changes and prescribe medications to help you manage PCOS symptoms and reduce its apparent effect.

FAQ's :

PCOS is a highly complex genetic syndrome where variations in many genes have been associated with the women's overall risk of developing the disorder. But, keep in mind that these genetic variations aren't solely to blame for PCOS as they are more likely to act in tandem with other health and lifestyle factors to cause the disorder.

Researchers studying PCOS genetics have discovered specific gene variants most likely to contribute to PCOS. For example, genetic variants that interfere with androgens like testosterone production (AR and DENND1A genes), fat and energy synthesis (FTO, CYP17, and CYP19), immune response to injury (inflammation), and insulin production (INSR gene) are shown to be strongly linked with PCOS.

While PCOS has no clear inheritable pattern, some close generational relationships are shown to exist due to shared genetic factors. This means that about 20-40% of individuals with PCOS are estimated to have family members with the same condition, usually a mother or sister.

Genetic tests using a combination of biomarkers are available to detect your potential PCOS predispositions. Based on the results, your doctor can provide you with personalized recommendations on dietary and fitness plans to improve the overall quality of your life.

Change in dietary habits and physical activity that results in weight loss is one of the first and most important strategies in effectively managing the disorder in most affected women susceptible to increased insulin resistance and obesity. It's no wonder that losing a few kilos can go a long way in normalizing your hormones, making your menstrual cycle more regular, and improving your chances of conception.

References:

  1. Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)—Symptoms and causes. Mayo Clinic. Retrieved May 8, 2022, from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/pcos/symptoms-causes/syc-20353439
  2. 65 per cent women in India unaware of PCOS symptoms; reveals survey conducted by OZiva. . ANI News. Retrieved May 8, 2022, from https://www.aninews.in/news/business/65-per-cent-women-in-india-unaware-of-pcos-symptoms-reveals-survey-conducted-by-oziva20210923142626/
  3. Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS). (n.d.). WebMD. Retrieved May 8, 2022, from https://www.webmd.com/women/what-is-pcos
  4. PCOS: A lifestyle disorder. Retrieved May 8, 2022, from https://www.telegraphindia.com/health/pcos-a-lifestyle-disorder/cid/1677239
  5. Polycystic ovary syndrome: MedlinePlus Genetics. Retrieved May 8, 2022, from https://medlineplus.gov/genetics/condition/polycystic-ovary-syndrome/
  6. Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome: Practice Essentials, Background, Etiology. (2022). https://emedicine.medscape.com/article/256806-overview#a4
  7. De Leo, V., Musacchio, M. C., Cappelli, V., Massaro, M. G., Morgante, G., & Petraglia, F. (2016). Genetic, hormonal and metabolic aspects of PCOS: An update. Reproductive Biology and Endocrinology, 14(1), 38. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12958-016-0173-x
  8. If Your Mom or Sister Has PCOS, You May Be More Likely to Develop It style=”font-size: 16px;”>. Health. Retrieved May 8, 2022, from https://www.health.com/condition/pcos/is-pcos-genetic

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