According to a report by Metropolis Healthcare, one in five women in India suffers from polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS). Clinically understood as a hormonal disorder that occurs in women of reproductive age, PCOS refers to the development of multiple cysts in the ovaries, leading to their enlargement. The syndrome is associated with a number of related metabolic, endocrinal, and reproductive disorders that affect the patient.
In recent years, young women are increasingly being diagnosed with PCOS, with the urban population being more affected than their rural counterparts, indicating it to be a lifestyle disorder. While this may be alarming news for women, on a positive note, its nature as a lifestyle disease implies that it is more easily manageable with precautions, says Dr Karnika Tiwari, consultant-obstetrician and gynecologist, Motherland Hospital, Noida.
Identifying the problem and its threats
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While the exact causes of PCOS are not known, the reasons may include family history — any female relative suffering from PCOS or type 2 diabetes. Other causes may be obesity, excessive levels of androgen hormone, and insulin resistance. The most common symptoms of PCOS include irregular menstruation, weight gain, and irregular androgen hormone levels causing acne and male pattern baldness, and infertility. While most of the symptoms are easily identifiable in the early years of menstruation, making diagnosis easy, sometimes the syndrome may manifest only in the adult years of a woman, often due to excessive weight gain.
The occurrence of PCOS in itself is not alarming, there might be the associated conditions that develop due to it. If undiagnosed and not managed correctly, PCOS may lead to a number of disorders such as diabetes, heart disease, hypertension, depression, infertility, risk of miscarriage, cardiac diseases, liver inflammation, sleep apnea, abnormal menstrual bleeding, and gynecological cancers. If one is overweight or obese, PCOS may also cause hormonal imbalance, leading to diabetes.
Managing the symptoms
Since PCOS is a lifestyle disorder, its management is easier if one takes due care. Apart from medication, one can also make lifestyle changes to lead a healthier and fitter life:
*If your PCOS is triggered by obesity, work towards losing weight. Loss of weight will reduce the insulin and androgen levels in your body and possibly also restore ovulation, thereby reducing the symptoms of PCOS. However, avoid crash dieting as it will only aggravate your hormonal imbalance and make your symptoms worse.
*In your daily diet, include more fresh fruits and vegetables, lean protein and foods rich in Omega-3. Reduce the consumption of carbohydrates.
*Avoid processed foods and foods high in sugar and sodium. Try switching to good fats found in nuts and ghee, sunflower seeds, sesame, etc.
*Increase your physical activity. Exercise for at least 30 minutes every day for five days a week.
*If you are prone to sit in one place for too long or have a desk job, get up and take a walk every 30 minutes.
*Sleep right. Make sure you get at least six-eight hours of sleep every day so as to allow your body to restore its health and maintain optimum hormonal levels.