Irregular periods and infrequent menstruation has become such a common occurrence in recent times that most women don’t pay attention to it anymore.
I was one of them once. I had got irregular periods with a gap of 42-60 days between each menstrual cycle and I didn’t take it seriously. In fact, I was relieved that I didn’t have to endure my PMS symptoms. But my mom naturally panicked, took me to the doctor and that’s how I got diagnosed with PCOS when I was 20, thankfully in its early stages itself. She gave some tablets, iron supplements and asked me to have nutritious food, stop eating junk food and to exercise regularly. I had followed all that until I got my periods regularly and abandoned them later. After few weeks, I started noticing so much of hair fall and weight gain even though I had low-calorie food. That’s when I started researching about PCOS. The things I learnt completely changed my perspective and my lifestyle.
The reason I am sharing this with you all is to tell you –
- You are not alone.
- To spread awareness and understanding.
- To make you PCOS positive !
ALARMING TRENDS of PCOS
- Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome is a very common disorder in woman that about 1 crore cases of PCOS are diagnosed every year in India alone.
- It’s indeed sad that 1 in every 10 women in India and 1 in 15 women in the world are diagnosed with it.
- But studies point out that still millions of women are undiagnosed due to lack of awareness.
Another shocking fact is PCOS is seen predominantly in women belonging to the child-bearing age group of 15-30 years.
- It affects women of all age groups – from adolescent to post menopause.
So, what is PCOS?
- Poly Cystic Ovarian Syndrome is a hormonal disorder that causes enlarged ovaries with small cysts on their outer edges.
- Well, that’s the typical definition you would find when you look up on it. To put it in simpler terms, we all know that every woman has a bit of male hormones (androgen) in addition to female hormones (oestrogen).
- Normally, they would be in a certain balance with each other. But when the male hormone level increases in a woman’s body, that’s when you get PCOS.
Technically, you might not have the above mentioned cysts but yet you might have PCOS (confusing disorder, isn’t it? ?).
- It generally causes problems with periods and makes it difficult for women to get pregnant.
- But saying PCOS leads to infertility is like saying education gets you a job. It’s an incomplete and a rather coarse explanation because PCOS affects every aspect of a women’s life.
SYMPTOMS & SIGNS
- This disorder has a lot of symptoms but the first and the most obvious is Menstrual Irregularities like irregular cycles, heavy or lack of menstruation, infrequent menses.
- PCOS also creates skin problems like oily skin or acne.
- Weight issues like obesity, difficulty in losing weight and oh wait, my nightmare, makes the body gain weight very easily.
- Hair loss. You may wonder how hair loss fits into the profile. Well, increased levels of androgen causes male pattern baldness or alopecia in woman, which causes your hair to shed like crazy and lead to a residing hairline from the front of the head.
- Poly cystic ovaries.
- Recurrent miscarriage.
- Excessive body hair.
- Mood disorders.
- Darkening of skin in the armpits, back of the neck or private area.
It’s possible that you don’t have a single viable symptom but still have PCOS.
Woman with PCOS have a higher risk (please note that I mention higher risk but you may not necessarily have or develop the following problems just because you have PCOS) of developing –
- Infertility- It is caused due to irregular or absent ovulation.
“Having PCOS doesn’t mean you are infertile. There are many women who have had kids despite having PCOS.”
- Hypertension (high blood pressure).
- Sleep Apnea – A condition where your breathing stops involuntarily during sleep because of airway space being too narrow in the throat. You basically start snoring a lot ?.
- High cholesterol – The hormonal imbalance caused by PCOS lowers HDL (the good cholesterol) and increases LDL (the bad guy?).
- Heart attack (courtesy of the above risk).
- Anxiety and depression.
- Endometrial Cancer (cancer in the inner lining of the uterus) – Caused due to non-stop oestrogen and absent progesterone caused due to rare ovulation.
- High risk pregnancy.
- Higher rate of miscarriage.
- Gestational Diabetes.
- Premature delivery.
- Type 2 Diabetes.
PCOS and INSULIN RESISTANCE
The biggest part of the problem with PCOS is insulin resistance which means your body is unable to use the insulin you do produce effectively.
- If you’re insulin resistant, your body may try to pump out high levels of insulin to keep your blood sugar levels normal.
- This increased levels of insulin can cause your ovaries to produce more androgen ( which again increases all the risk factors that I have mentioned above since your insulin resistance just managed to increase your hormonal imbalance).
- Insulin resistance may also be caused if you are overweight or obese.
- Also, it can make it harder to lose weight, which is why women with PCOS often struggle with weight loss.
Gosh! That was a long article. And I have just about managed to give you a EYNTK session on PCOS, its symptoms and its risk factors. There’s another article coming out on tackling PCOS (with my personal and tried out experiences).
Do I sound clinical in this article? Maybe yeah. But I just wanted you guys to know what you are dealing with.
“Though statistics say 1 in 10 women, at least 3 out of 5 girls I have met have PCOS. Just remember it is so common and nothing to be ashamed of”
If you have any doubts or any clarifications, I’ll be happy to help you. Just drop in a comment or DM via any social media options given below. Love you guys?.
Wanna know how to control PCOS? Read this article.