All You Need to Know About PCOS
By Nmami Agarwal
Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a medical condition which affects women’s hormonal levels. It disrupts the functioning of the reproductive organs that produce progesterone and estrogen, the hormones that regulate the menstrual cycle. Hormones in your body help different functions to take place optimally. Some hormones support women during the childbearing and also to regulate the menstrual cycle. Insufficient or overproduction of these hormones leads to PCOS. Hormones which have disturbed functioning and cause PCOS include androgens, insulin, and progesterone. To know more in detail, read on.
Glimpse Of Hormonal Disorder
Androgens: These hormones are basically the ‘male hormones’ but women’s bodies produce some amount of it too. Women diagnosed with PCOS tend to have a higher level of these hormones and symptoms like baldness, excessive hair growth on your face and complications in getting pregnant.
Progesterone: In a condition like PCOS, your body does not produce enough of this hormone which leads to irregular periods for a long span of time or unpredictable periods.
Insulin: Insulin controls the blood sugar levels in your body. In case, you have PCOS, your body might not react to insulin, in a way it is supposed to.
Know The Symptoms
PCOS signs and symptoms often develop at the initial stage of the menstrual cycle. At times, PCOS can also develop and reveal its symptoms, later in future, for instance, in response to excessive weight gain. Moreover, the signs and symptoms of PCOS may also vary from woman to woman. A woman is diagnosed with PCOS when she witnesses at least two of the below-mentioned symptoms:
Irregular periods: Irregular, infrequent or delayed menstrual cycles are the very first and most common symptoms of PCOS. To understand better, please refer this example, you might experience lesser than nine menstrual cycles a year or more than 35 days gap between the start of next menstrual cycle or abnormally heavy flow during the menstrual cycle.
Excess androgen: Excessive production of androgen (male hormones) results in changed physical appearance, such as excess facial and body hair growth also called hirsutism and intermittent severe bouts of acne and formation of bald patches.
Polycystic ovaries: Ovaries might get enlarged and contain follicles which surround the eggs. In response, your ovaries might fail to function properly.
How PCOS Can Affect Your Body
Having higher than normal hormone production levels in the body can result in complications in your fertility and other aspects of the health.
Infertility: PCOS is amongst the leading reasons for infertility in women. Getting pregnant depends on how you optimally and regularly you ovulate. Women who can’t ovulate regularly can’t release eggs to be fertilized which lead to infertility.
Metabolic syndrome: Almost eighty percent of women are overweight or obese with PCOS condition. Both overweight and PCOS amplify the risk of high blood pressure, high blood sugar levels, high LDL (bad) cholesterol and low HDL (good) cholesterol. Together, these factors are called metabolic syndrome.
Sleep apnea: It’s a condition causing regular pauses while breathing during the night, interrupting sleep. Sleep apnea is common in overweight women, especially in those who have PCOS. Risk of sleep apnea is higher in obese women with PCOS than in those who don’t.
Endometrial cancer: When ovulation takes place, the uterine lining sheds off on its own. If you don’t ovulate each month, the lining builds up and the thickened lining of uterine can raise the risk for endometrial cancer.
Depression: Both, hormonal disorder and the symptoms like infertility and excessive hair growth on unwanted parts of the body can adversely affect the emotions that one who goes through. Therefore, many with PCOS experience anxiety and depression.
Over to you
PCOS can drastically disrupt your menstrual cycles and make it harder for you to get pregnant. Therefore, lifestyle interventions are mandatory and should be a part of your treatments. Consulting the doctor for PCOS often works well. Also, metformin and birth control pills can give relief from PCOS symptoms and restore normal menstrual cycles as well. But always seek the advice of your doctor before using any medication or treatment method.
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