Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) is a lifestyle condition affecting multiple women in today’s society. This condition is responsible for causing menstrual irregularities, mood swings, and difficulty in managing weight. Along with hormonal imbalances, PCOS can be characterised by a variety of symptoms such as excessive hair growth, acne, and infertility – making it a complex and challenging condition to manage.
Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) is a hormonal imbalance that occurs when your ovaries produce unusually high levels of male hormones called androgens and therefore, disrupts the balance of your hormones. Folks with PCOS often have irregular/missed menstrual cycles and unpredictable ovulation. Women with PCOS may also have multiple small follicular cysts (fluid-filled sacs containing immature eggs), that can be detected on an ultrasound. It is worth noting, however, that not all individuals with PCOS will exhibit the presence of cysts. Despite their appearance, these cysts tend to be painless.
The Channel 46 collaborated with Dr Surbhi Sinha, a Gynaecologist at Proactive For Her, who discusses the possible symptoms, factors that have contributed to the increased incidence of the health condition, and ways to manage it.
7 Common Symptoms Of PCOS
Below are some common symptoms that the menstruating population may experience.
1. Irregular Periods
Irregular menstrual cycles can manifest in various forms, ranging from missed periods to a complete absence of menstruation. Additionally, individuals experiencing irregular periods may also encounter instances of heavy bleeding during their menstrual cycles.
2. Abnormal Hair Growth
You may observe excessive facial hair or experience heavy hair growth on your arms, chest and abdomen (hirsutism).
3. Acne & Hair Fall
PCOS can cause acne on your back, chest, and face. Additionally, there are chances of increased hair fall in folks diagnosed with PCOS.
4. Weight Management
People with PCOS tend to have trouble maintaining a healthy weight. When it comes to managing your weight, taking control of your PCOS creates a major impact.
5. Darkening Of The Skin
You may see dark skin patches in the folds of your neck, armpits, groin and even under your breasts. This is known as acanthosis nigricans and is very common.
Many people with PCOS have ovaries that appear larger with many follicles on ultrasound.
PCOS is the leading cause of infertility in women. Not ovulating regularly or frequently can result in not being able to conceive.
7 Factors That Have Led To The Increase In PCOS Diagnosis
There are a number of reasons why more people have been diagnosed with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) in recent years:
1. Better Awareness & Diagnosis
Women are more aware of PCOS and are likely to recognise the symptoms and suspect the condition. In addition, with the age of social media, easy access to information has created a safe space to encourage them to seek medical help and make the correct diagnosis.
2. Poor Diet
A diet high in refined carbohydrates, sugars, and saturated fat can lead to insulin resistance, a key feature of PCOS. Insulin resistance can cause the body to produce more androgens (male hormones), which can prevent ovulation and cause other symptoms of PCOS.
3. Lack Of Exercise
Regular exercise can improve insulin sensitivity and help regulate hormone levels, which can reduce the severity of PCOS symptoms. Conversely, a sedentary lifestyle may increase weight gain and worsen insulin resistance.
Chronic stress can disrupt the body’s delicate balance of hormones, including those associated with PCOS. Stress can also trigger emotional eating and other unhealthy coping mechanisms that can worsen PCOS symptoms.
5. Sleep Disturbances
Poor sleep quality or insufficient sleep can disrupt the body’s hormonal balance and worsen PCOS symptoms.
It is important to note that lifestyle factors are not the only causes of PCOS and that the disorder can have genetic and other causes. However, healthy lifestyle choices can help manage PCOS symptoms and improve overall health.
6. Environmental Factors
Exposure to certain environmental pollutants and chemicals has been linked to causing PCOS. These chemicals, such as bisphenol A (BPA), phthalates, and pesticides, are found in many everyday products.
7. Genetic Factors
PCOS also has a genetic component. People with a family history of PCOS are more likely to develop the disease. Overall, it is likely that a combination of these factors contributes to the rise of PCOS.
4 Ways To Manage PCOS Symptoms
Timely action, lifestyle modification and empathetic medical care is vital when it comes to managing this condition. It is crucial to bear in mind that your personal journey with PCOS may differ from that of others who have been diagnosed with the health condition, and a personalised plan is important to get you started.
If you suspect PCOS, here are some tips to keep in mind:
- Talk to a non-judgemental doctor
- Don’t be hesitant to start medication as per your doctor’s advice
- Stick to a healthy diet
- Take the time out to exercise regularly
With the right guidance and lifestyle, you can curb PCOS and its symptoms. Breathe, you got this!
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