Poly Cystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) is the most common gynaecological disorder in India and the leading cause of fertility complications in women. Some of the common symptoms of PCOS include infrequent menstrual periods with irregular bleeding; hair loss from the scalp; excessive hair growth all over the body, a condition called hirsutism; acne and oily skin; depression or mood swings; weight gain; pelvic pain; sleep apnea and inability to conceive.
PCOS is very common in India. It is estimated that 1 in every 10 women in India has PCOS but because of lack of awareness it is not detected on time and many women keep suffering. The incidence of PCOS is higher in urban cities and is growing among adolescents and young girls.
There are several myths and misconceptions about PCOS that are not true. Here are some of which you need to be aware:
1: Having PCOS means you cannot have a baby
PCOS can make conception harder but many women with the disorder have successfully conceived provided they received the right treatment.Even if you have cysts in your ovaries but are not exhibiting any other PCOS symptoms, chances are you will not have problems conceiving. But if you have been diagnosed with PCOS and are having problems gettingpregnant speak to your doctor about the right fertility treatment for you.
2: PCOS is only caused by an imbalance in the hormones
Most PCOS cases do have an underlying hormonal imbalance as the cause but there are other factors that also cause this condition such as genetics or excess insulin production. Many women with PCOS are overweight or obese so they need to make lifestyle changes to reverse this condition. These changes would include diet and exercise, avoidance of stress, ensuring enough rest and sleep and cutting out smoking and alcohol.
3: All women with PCOS experience the same symptoms
PCOS symptoms vary from woman to woman. In some cases the symptoms start gradually and worsen over time and in some cases symptoms might not surface for a long time. As soon as any of the common symptoms of PCOS manifest it is advisable to go for a checkup. This ensures an early diagnosis and the start of the right treatment.
4: Diabetes causes PCOS
Research shows that PCOS is related to insulin resistance and the development of diabetes, however diabetes does not necessarily always lead to PCOS. Women are advised to track any pre diabetes risks that exist for them as individuals such as a family history of diabetes, excessive weight gain, an unhealthy diet and over consumption of sweetened drinks. In general, a nutritious diet would include plenty of fruit and vegetables, whole grains, nuts and good fats.
5: Losing weight will cure my PCOS
Losing weight will not get rid of this condition. It could however reduce its impact.Studies have shown that weight loss improves ovulation thereby significantly improving pregnancy outcomes.One contributing factor for PCOS is the release of excessive androgens (male hormones) by the ovaries than can lead to weight gain especially around the abdomen. So it is important to maintain a healthy weight by eating right and exercising because excess weight gain with PCOS can lead to other complications like high cholesterol, high blood pressure, Type 2 diabetes and sleep apnea.
If you are diagnosed with PCOS there is no need to worry because all its symptoms can now be managed with the right treatment. My advice to all women is to be aware of the health conditions that can affect them during their reproductive years and to seek medical guidance early so that the preventive measurescan be initiated early and if treatment is required,it can be provided in an efficient and timely manner.