Sugar, starch, and unsaturated fats have become our pals. Outdoor activities are almost zero and working out is sometimes too much to ask for. But this sort of unhealthy lifestyle is an invitation to PCOS.
Polycystic ovary syndrome or PCOS is the most common reproductive problem faced by women today. Although the stats don’t reflect the true picture, it affects up to 26% of women globally. In India, about 11% to 22% of women suffer from PCOS—which is alarming to say the least.
A hormonal disorder in women of reproductive age, the exact causes of PCOS are yet to be identified. Though, heredity factors and excess insulin and androgens in the body can act as catalysts.
“PCOS is also associated with higher levels of blood sugar as well as insulin resistance, and obesity. In fact, there is evidence that women who are obese are at a higher risk of PCOS,” says Dr Prathima Reddy, senior gynaecologist and obstetrician, and director of Fortis La Femme Hospital, Bengaluru.
PCOS doesn’t come without warning signs…
There are a wide range of symptomatic abnormalities attached to PCOS. “It affects several organs. If not recognized early and managed appropriately, it can lead to menstrual irregularities, cosmetic problems, psychological issues, diabetes, heart disease, and even endometrial cancer,” explains Dr Reddy. Some of the early symptoms that you should look out for are:
1. Excess facial hair or hirsuitism
In PCOS, a woman’s body secretes excess androgens or male hormones like testosterone, which lead to unwanted hair growth, especially on the face, cheeks, back, and buttocks.
2. Thinning hair and hair loss
If your hair is thinning from the front scalp area then this can also be an early symptom of PCOS. The reason? Why, excess androgens of course!
3. Adult acne
Oily skin & acne? Blame it on androgens! The excess testosterone in your body increases sebum and skin cell production, leading to oily skin and acne.
4. Fertility problems
PCOS is the state where female sex hormones are restricted. In extreme cases, PCOS prevent the release or development of fully grown eggs in our body, leading to infertility.
5. Weight gain
It is a common problem in women with PCOS. This condition makes it difficult for our body to use insulin by breaking it into energy. Accumulation of sugar in the body leads to weight gain.
When should you see a doctor?
For PCOS, the earlier the better! Doctors suggest that early detection can also help you avoid diseases like diabetes and heart ailments. So, if you come across any of the above symptoms that persist don’t just wait and watch, but head to your gynaecologist.