PCOS: The silently growing devil
Dr Vidya Sinha
Senior Consultant (Infertility and IVF)
A very commonly heard term, by many ladies nowadays, adolescents and young, middle aged, and even perimenopausal. Name PCOS is used for a syndrome, encompassing many symptoms such as weight gain, irregular periods, excessive hair growth on body and face. The name was unheard of few decades back. People talk about HIV, bird flu, swine flu and many other new aged diseases, as they are fast in their actions. PCOS works slowly, so catches little less attention. As it effects the functioning of multiple systems of the body, it’s important to educate the women, especially the young ladies, so that they don’t have to face the long-term effects of this slow evil.
What is PCOS?
Polycystic ovaries is the most consistent feature, hence this name. Though, it
doesn’t encompass all the organs involved, for some reason, the eggs stop getting triggered by the hormones and they don’t grow or grow irregularly. Therefore, the periods become irregular. The female can have tough time in conceiving for the same reason. There is weight gain, excessive male hormone production in the body, hence, excessive hair growth happens on the body and sometimes on face.
What are the long-term complications of PCOS?
Most common is weight gain which further increases the risk of many diseases or complications, such as, fatty liver, high blood pressure, diabetes mellitus and so on. PCOS, in itself, creates a high risk for insulin resistance and diabetes mellitus 2. Moreover, if the periods don’t come on time, there is unopposed estrogen in the body. Unopposed estrogen can lead to endometrial hyperplasia and even
endometrial cancer according to many studies. Also, we cannot forget that it’s a very common cause of infertility nowadays.
How can we prevent or cure PCOS?
If we pay attention to it, we will realise that slowly our society is turning sedentary. Youngsters are addicted to junk and exotic foods, which are not normal to our climate, and doesn’t suit our physiology. These foods are also rich in saturated fats, and preservatives. The sauces, mayonnaise, packed foods are full of preservatives and flavour enhancers. The cold drinks are full of concentrated sugars. And on the top of it, after taking so much of concentrated food, we sit still with our mobile phones and television screen, leaving all the burden on our body to handle it the way it wants. Result is, high triglycerides, fatty liver, insulin resistance and in long run, even diabetes mellitus. The clear-cut absolute cause for PCOS isn’t known, nor do we have absolute cure. But yes, good news is, the control is in our hands. We can control it up to a large extent— by modifying our lifestyle, by sticking to healthy food, fruits, salads etc, and by cutting down on junk food, complex carbohydrates and sugar. Physical activity in the form of walking initially, then aerobics or yoga for 40 mins a day, helps to reduce weight, and thus, helps in normalising the metabolic syndrome. It’s the responsibility of parents to recognise the early signs of PCOS in adolescents, like weight gain, acne, hair fall, hair growth on face and body and take them to the doctor earliest.
Does PCOS females have difficulty in conceiving?
It’s a very common cause of infertility nowadays. Due to irregular egg formation, and poor quality of eggs, these females do have tough time conceiving. So, if you are a known case of PCOS and trying for pregnancy, it’s always advisable to try under supervision of an infertility expert. Initial cycles in a young female can be tried naturally with follicular monitoring which can be done through serial ultrasounds. If three or more natural cycles have failed, IUI can be attempted. In severe cases of PCOS, and when all the conservative methods have failed, patient should proceed for IVF, before she loses her fertile years.
The rising prevalence of PCOS in society is a knock from nature, and an alarm for us to improve the day by day degrading lifestyles we are falling into. Its important to curb the cravings, overcome the temptations and choose the healthy lifestyle consciously, or this disease can present as an epidemic very soon.