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Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS)- An overview

It is the most common endocrine disorder that affects women of reproductive age. 1 in every 5 women in India have PCOD. It is a condition that causes irregular menstrual periods because monthly ovulation is not occurring, and levels of androgens (male hormones) are elevated.

Cause of PCOS is not completely understood but may involve a combination of genetic and environmental factors. There is 50% possibility of getting PCOD among the women whose immediate female relatives suffer from PCOD

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Signs and symptoms of PCOS usually begin around the time of puberty, although many women develop symptoms in the late adolescence or even early adulthood. Common symptoms are:

  • Irregular or absent menstrual periods - If ovulation doesn’t occur, the lining of uterus does not uniformly shed out and regrow as in a normal menstrual cycle
  • Weight gain and obesity- PCOS is associated with gradual weight gain and obesity in approximately one-half of women
  • Unwanted hair growth and acne - male pattern hair growth may be seen on upper lip, chin, neck, chest, abdomen
  • Scalp hair loss
  • Infertility - many women with PCOS do not ovulate regularly and it may take these women longer to become pregnant
  • Sleep apnea
  • Various metabolic syndromes, including high blood pressure, cardiovascular diseases, increased cholesterol and blood glucose levels

There is no single test for diagnosing PCOS. Diagnosis is based on symptoms, blood tests and physical examination. Woman must have 2 out of 3 of the following to be diagnosed with PCOS.

  • Irregular menstrual periods
  • Evidence of elevated androgen levels such as excess hair growth, acne, male pattern balding or blood tests which shows high androgen levels.
  • Ultrasound shows polycystic changes in ovaries.

There is no permanent treatment for PCOS, but symptoms can be managed. Having PCOS can be hard on girl’s self-esteem. Fortunately, there are things you can do to reduce the physical symptoms and take care of the emotional side of living with PCOS

  • Weight loss- It is one of the most effective approaches for managing symptoms of PCOS. Weight loss is achieved by healthy diet and exercise. Exercise is very important to improve your body’s sensitivity to insulin and prevent progression to diabetes
  • Oral contraceptive pills – it is used for regulating menstrual periods. It is also effective for treating hirsutism (excess hair growth) and acne.
  • Progestin- another method to treat menstrual irregularity is to take progestin
  • Metformin- It is also one of the treatment for menstrual irregularities in PCOD patient
  • Hair treatments- excess hair growth on the face or other body parts removed by shaving or use of depilatories, laser therapy

Also Read : What is PCOD? Signs, Causes, How to Diagnose and Treatments

With treatment, most women with PCOS can get pregnant. Ovulation induction and IUI can be done as the treatment for infertility

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