By Dr. Prabha Ranjan, Gynaecology
PCOS, Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome is characterized by the formation of small cysts on the peripherry of ovaries which leads to enlargement of ovaries. This is caused by hormones estrogen, LH, FSH, androgens and progesterone. PCOS generally affects the heart function, body weight, menstrual cycle and the overall appearance. The ovarian cysts lead to menstrual abnormalities and cramps and also reduce fertility. It’s a life-long disease which presents itself in various phases of life in different ways.
Common Symptoms Include:
- Sudden weight gain or weight loss problems.
- Excess hair on body and face due to a dip in female hormones.
- Irregularities in periods.
- Fertility problems.
- Reduction in size of breasts.
- Hair fall.
- Pain in the pelvic region.
PCOS a lifelong disease which presents itself in different stages of life with different problems. In younger age group Amenorrhea i.e no periods, irregular period and infertility are the most common presentations. In later-half of reproductive age i.e. in middle age and older women – abnormal uterine bleeding, endometrial hyperplasia, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, etc. are the common presentation of PCOD.
The actual causes behind PCOS remain unknown. However, it is genetically influenced in most cases. Overproduction of the male hormone ‘androgen’ increases the risks of this condition. ‘Androgens’ are produced in trace amounts in the female body. The overproduction causes severe menstrual abnormalities and results in the development of ovarian cysts. Environmental changes, food adulteration, pollution, etc. are among the other causes.
Diagnosis and Treatment-
Diagnosis is mainly through clinical evaluation, hormonal profile testing and ultrasound. Investigations include hormonal profile testing and ultrasound pelvis. PCOD incidence is gradually increasing in the young girls and women of reproductive age group. Once diagnosed, the individual is asked to consider treatment. PCOS doesn’t necessarily have a particular cure.
Lifestyle modification is the mainstay of treatment which includes diet and regular exercise. Diet includes fresh meals, fruits, vegetables, sprouts, low oil foods and to avoid fast or junk foods, oily foods, drinks, packed juice etc. Exercise and activity in any form like brisk walking, jogging, skipping, aerobics, yoga, etc. – idea is to keep oneself active. Along with lifestyle modification, specific treatment is provided according to the presenting complaint of the patient e.g for menstrual irregularities and amenorrhea in young girls or for infertility in married women etc. Often, PCOS leads to ovulation issues which can also be controlled by specific drugs. Treatment with medicines is needed according to presenting complaint of the patient and need of the patient.