Typically, Indian women tend to ignore their health issues until these issues start interfering in their daily schedules or turn serious. However, such issues should be dealt with at the initial stage before it is too late.
September is Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) Awareness Month. PCOS is a condition that usually affects women in the age group of 15-44 years; in simple words, during the period when they can embrace motherhood.
What is Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)?
PCOS is one of the most common ovulatory disorders found in women, and it affects their hormone levels. PCOS affects the reproductive organs of women, i.e., ovaries, which produce estrogen and progesterone, the hormones that regulate the menstrual cycle of a woman. The ovaries of a woman also produce a small quantity of male hormones called androgen.
The three features of PCOS are:
1. Cysts in ovaries: As the word polycystic suggests, many cysts, which are fluid-filled sacs, grow inside the ovaries. These sacs are follicles, and each one of them has an immature egg that never matures because ovulation doesn’t take place.
2. High levels of androgen: Due to no ovulation, there is a change in the levels of hormones. Androgen is produced in higher quantity than estrogen and progesterone, because of which the menstrual cycle is affected as the male hormones interfere with ovulation.
3. Irregular or skipped periods: Women who suffer from PCOS will have an irregular period cycle and fewer periods than they should have.
Causes of PCOS:
The exact cause of PCOS is not yet known to the medical fraternity, but three factors have been linked with excess production of androgen:
1. Genes: It may be hereditary in some women.
2. Resistance to insulin: Around 70 per cent of women who suffer from PCOS have insulin resistance or, in simple words, their cells cannot use insulin properly. Insulin is also a hormone produced by the pancreas to help the human body use sugar from the foods consumed for energy. But when insulin is not used in the right manner by the cells, the demand for insulin rises because the pancreas increases the production of insulin which in turn results in extra production of androgen. Obesity is termed the top reason for insulin resistance.
3. Inflammation: Inflammation is at higher levels in women with PCOS, and it also leads to higher production of androgen.
Effects of PCOS:
The excessive production of male hormone androgen results in acne, loss of scalp hair, growth of facial hair, irregular menstrual cycle and problems in conceiving. Women with an irregular menstrual cycle can experience mild menses sometimes while heavy menses at other times. Aside from these, there are some other major effects of PCOS, such as type 2 diabetes in the latter part of life, and a woman can also suffer from diabetes during the pregnancy. This abnormal hormone level is a matter of concern during the pregnancy because it can also lead to an early miscarriage.
How to deal with PCOS?
Women with irregular periods should consult a doctor as soon as possible. Goral Gandhi is a leading embryologist of India and the founder and scientific director of Global Fertility Solutions, Mumbai. She takes pride in providing evidence-based fertility coaching to women. If you or anyone you know is dealing with PCOS or planning their families, Goral Gandhi and her team would be happy to help! She has been helping women with infertility, pregnancy and menstrual issues for the past 25 years.
Please don’t delay making an appointment with Goral Gandhi and her team, as your health is your real wealth.
Visit our Website: www.goralgandhi.com