What is PCOS and why should we talk about it?

PCOS or polycystic ovaries syndrome is a common hormonal imbalance that is seen in women of the reproductive age. It is very common in women today majorly due to the environmental and lifestyles changes we see today. 1 in every 10 women has PCOS but the lack knowledge and awareness around it is astounding.

The lack of awareness can also be blamed on the fact that the effects or symptoms of PCOS are varies a lot. Some may start seeing the symptoms from their very first period or some may not see it till they try getting pregnant. Also some symptoms such as unwanted and excess hair growth, acne or obesity etc. sometimes cannot be connected to PCOS directly and women tend to think that they face these issues due to other reasons. It has been observed that around 70% of the women who have PCOS go undiagnosed.

There are also some myths related to it such as women who have PCOS are infertile and have to take IVF treatment to get pregnant, which is not true, actually around 60% of the women with PCOS conceive naturally and other may require some low level fertility treatment and do not have to go for IVF. Other myths include that women with PCOS has cyst in their ovaries which was proved not true with further researches.

So these myths and unawareness around the polycystic ovaries syndrome makes it all the more important to talk about it and make sure every woman have the right information about it so that if even if you are diagnosed with it you do not fall trap to wrong treatments and medications as well as have the full knowledge about it so that myths and shame can be kept at the bay.

What is PCOS?

PCOS, or polycystic ovary syndrome, is a hormonal disease that may affect women during their reproductive years (15 to 44). It will have an impact on your ability to have a child or fertility as your doctor may say.PCOS is a condition that affects a woman's ovaries, which are reproductive organs that contain oestrogen and progesterone, and control the menstrual cycle. Male hormones called androgens are also produced in limited amounts by the ovaries.

It can also be used to:

  • Stop or find it difficult to estimate your periods.
  • Acne and excess body and facial hair are the result.
  • Increase your chances of developing such health conditions, such as diabetes and high blood pressure.

Many thin, fluid-filled sacs expand within the ovaries as a result of PCOS. The term "polycystic" refers to a person who has a lot of cysts.

Each of these sacs is a follicle, which contains an immature egg. Ovulation is never triggered and the eggs are never mature enough.

PCOS isn't a recent ailment. In 1721, Italian physician Antonio Vallisneri was the first to identify the symptoms.

What are some of the Symptoms?

PCOS affects everyone differently and everyone may experience different changes in their body. But some of the most common symptoms which are seen in women who have PCOS are as follows. Some women may experience more whereas some may experience less symptoms.

  • irregular menses
  • excess androgen levels
  • sleep apnea
  • high  stress  levels
  • high blood pressure
  • skin tags
  • infertility
  • acne, oily skin, and dandruff
  • high cholesterol and triglycerides
    acanthosis nigricans, or dark patches of skin
  • fatigue
  • female pattern balding
  • insulin resistance
  • type 2 diabetes
  • pelvic pain
  • depression and anxiety
  • weight management difficulties including weight gain or difficulty losing weight
    excessive facial and body hair growth, known as hirsutism
  • decreased libido

What causes PCOS?

The reasons or causes of PCOS cannot be pin pointed. Doctors state the following reasons may be behind someone experiencing PCOS.
The ovaries are unable to produce hormones or produce eggs naturally due to elevated levels of male hormones. Excess androgen activity has been related to genes, insulin resistance, and inflammation.

PCOS seems to run in families, according to genetic studies. Many genes, not just one, are likely to play a role in the disease. Insulin resistance
Insulin tolerance affects up to 70% of women with PCOS, which means their cells can't use insulin properly. When cells are unable to efficiently use insulin, the body's need for it rises. To compensate, the pancreas produces more insulin. Extra insulin stimulates the development of male hormone by the ovaries.

Inflammation levels in women with PCOS are often elevated. Inflammation may also be exacerbated by being overweight. Excessive inflammation has been attributed to elevated androgen levels in studies.

Treatment of PCOS

Treatment may be determined by the conditions, age, and desire to become pregnant. If you're overweight, even a small loss of 5 percent to 10% of your body weight will help you feel better. It will also make your prescriptions function well and increase your fertility.

Your doctor may recommend hormonal birth control, such as the skin patch or the pill, if you are not trying to become pregnant. These drugs will help you reduce the chances of endometrial cancer, regulate your cycles, clear up acne, and get rid of unwanted body hair. Fertility pills will help the ovaries release eggs if you want to get pregnant.

Inquire with your doctor about drugs that can help with body hair and acne.