According to a study conducted by Metropolis Healthcare, one in five Indian women suffer from polycystic ovarian syndrome, a condition characterised by unbalanced hormone levels in the body. This leads to the growth of benign cysts on the ovaries and can cause problems in the menstrual cycle, fertility, cardiac function, and appearance.
Women who suffer from PCOS can either have very irregular periods or heavy bleeding during periods. Another common symptom of PCOS is excessive hair growth on the chest, back, neck, toes and face. The symptoms vary from woman to woman. While some might suffer from acne and hirsuteness, others report having less than 9 periods a year. Sometimes, overproduction of the hormone androgen can cause enlargement of the ovary or clitoris.
PCOS is a common problem for women aged between 18 to 45 years. Its prevalence is not restricted to India, with one in ten American women reporting symptoms that indicate PCOS.
However, PCOS can be easily treated. PCOS treatments are not curative in the sense that they do not cure the syndrome but alleviate symptoms. PCOS treatment requires a careful management of diet, exercise and medicine.
Causes for the rising PCOS Crisis:
The biggest problem facing women suffering from PCOS in India is the lack of awareness about the syndrome. So what exactly causes PCOS? Unfortunately, the exact cause of it remains unknown. Most researchers say that PCOS results from a combination of factors, among which genetics plays a big role. You are likely to suffer from PCOS if your mother or sister experiences it too. Women who suffer from obesity are also very likely to suffer from PCOS.
Other causes for PCOS include a high-level of the male hormone androgen in the body or high levels of insulin. Insulin is a hormone that controls the process of food changing into energy. Insulin resistance is built when the body’s cells do not respond normally to insulin, thus increasing the amount of insulin in the bloodstream. This sometimes corresponds to PCOS, especially for those women who are obese, do not exercise regularly or have a family history of diabetes.
Lack of awareness regarding PCOS Crisis often means that women become vulnerable to other, serious health concerns as well. For example, women become vulnerable to diabetes due to insulin resistance and high levels of bad cholesterol (LDL) caused by PCOS. Other problems that arise from PCOS include high blood pressure, depression, and anxiety. Perhaps the most serious of these is endometrial cancer, which women suffering from ovulation problems, obesity or diabetes (all symptoms of PCOS) are particularly at risk for.
Myths about PCOS:
It needs stressing that PCOS is easily treatable, common as it is. People suffering from PCOS must take care to remain clear of misconceptions about the syndrome.
The most common myths surrounding PCOS crisis are that having PCOS means one cannot get pregnant or that PCOS disappears with childbirth or menopause. Having PCOS does not mean that you cannot get pregnant. The hormonal imbalance caused by PCOS interferes with ovulation, but this can be easily treated with the right medication. Also, some women note that their periods regularise closer to menopause but the problem of hormonal imbalance does not necessarily disappear with age. It is also important to note that PCOS crisis such as diabetes or high blood pressure does not disappear with menopause or childbirth.
It is important to consult a doctor if you wish to treat PCOS. However, there are some remedies that you can follow at home as well to alleviate PCOS symptoms. These include regular exercise, a diet that includes green, leafy vegetables, fruits and low GI (Glycemic Index) carbohydrates such as legumes, beans, and lentils. It is also advised to avoid alcohol, caffeine and tobacco products. The key to maintaining a regular menstrual cycle ultimately lies in exercise and nutrition.