Women universally have to face many challenges whether it’s their menstrual days of the months or the various hormonal challenges that come along with these days. Add to it the condition of the polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), you have the ingredients of a brewing disaster. All walks of women, irrespective of their age, size, and geography face PCOS universally.
Condition of PCOS can occur right from one’s teen years and can cause serious problems like birth conception, skin issues, and other health problems. Therefore, it’s important to be self-aware of the PCOS symptoms and get the right treatments and tests done.
It is reported that more than 27% of women are said to have PCOS during their childbearing age of 15 to 44 years. Studies also report that up to 70 percent of women with PCOS hadn’t been diagnosed.
What is Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome?
PCOS or Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome is a health condition found in women where their ovaries produce an abnormal amount of androgens, the male sex hormones. Usually, in the normal scenario, one’s body should have androgens in the range of 15 to 70 ng/dL or 0.5 to 2.4 nmol/L. Anything more than these counts are considered abnormal.
Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome in itself means the many small cysts that are formed in the ovaries. But it isn’t compulsory for a PCOS patient to necessarily have cysts. Similarly, a woman can develop cysts without having PCOS.
During the menstrual period of women, the unfertilized eggs released from the ovary are flushed out of the body. But, if the body is not able to produce enough hormones called progesterone to complete the ovulation process, the ovaries tend to produce many small cysts. It is these small cysts that make hormones called androgens.
The imbalance of androgen hormone causes further disturbance in the regular menstrual cycle and also creates hurdles in birth conception and pregnancy.
Causes of Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome
There has been no definite reason linked to the cause of PCOS occurrence to date. However, certain aspects are found to attribute to this health problem like
The hormone called insulin is produced by the pancreas to help the body use sugar from foods for energy. But the inability of one’s body cells to use the produced insulin properly creates the demand for more insulin. The access to insulin production triggers the ovaries to produce more male hormones, androgens.
It is found that more than 70% of women having PCOS also have insulin resistance.
It’s quite normally seen that PCOS runs down in the family.
The white blood cells produce substances that fight infection and low-grade inflammation is a term used for this process. Women having PCOS are found with this problem. Research shows that this stimulates polycystic ovaries to produce androgens, which can lead to heart and blood vessel problems.
When one’s ovaries produce abnormally high levels of androgen, which results in PCOS.
Symptoms of Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome
Usually, a woman who’s obese is found to have incurred PCOS but that’s not a definitive factor. As mentioned, it can start as early as one hits puberty and the symptoms are pretty hard to read. Mainly because generally women having hormonal issues are not taken seriously. Some brush it under the rug saying one is simply PMSing.
But the reality of PCOS in women is real and grave. Also, many women only get diagnosed once they start getting jarringly noticeable symptoms. One’s body undergoes stressful changes like chronic hormonal imbalance. While others also face problems like gaining abnormal weight, missed or irregular periods, presence of many cysts in ovaries.
You might also experience surplus hair growth on your body parts like the stomach, back, or chest. The skin conditions of women worsen facing problems like acne and oiliness along with dark or thick skin patches on the back of the neck, in the armpits, and under the breasts. Other symptoms include hair early hair thinning, and skin tags.
It’s also quite common among PCOS patients to face serious problems during pregnancy or they might even face infertility issues.
Diagnosis of PCOS
Though many face PCOS across the globe, it’s sad to say how more than half the women fail to detect the issue at hand early on. The diagnosis of PCOS is quite simple. A medical expert will ask you about the problem you are facing and also examine your medical history which includes a pelvic test. A pelvic exam examines one’s reproductive organs.
Other than that, you might be advised to get an ultrasound done. This ensures whether you have enlarged ovaries and whether your ovaries have abnormal cysts. This also clears whether the endometrium (thickness of the lining of the uterus) is right or not.
Blood tests are also quite commonly done in the case of PCOS detection. The test ensures the counts of androgens and other hormones. It also ensures the levels of blood glucose and triglyceride and cholesterol check.
Treatments Suggested for PCOS
First and foremost, once you have been detected with PCOS, it’s important that you stay motivated, take your own time to get treated and have lots of patience. The fact that is overweight and facing health issues is itself a big demotivation for many women. Plus, the societal pressure where many label one as just plain lazy to work out to lose weight is hardly any help in your case.
It’s important to get treated the right way. Crash dieting and torturing oneself to the point of starvation is not the right way to go about it. You have to start being kinder to your body and take sustainable and concrete steps toward changing your lifestyle.
Healthy Food Habits and Lifestyle
You have to move towards a healthier way of living and intaking lots of nutrients and less junk indulgence. Hormones are directly linked with the kind of food we eat and the lifestyle we lead. Good food and a good exercise regime can lead your body to use insulin more efficiently, lower blood glucose levels, and may help you ovulate.
It isn’t compulsory to stop everything habit all at once. You need a balance between all your habits. Start slow but try to be consistent.
There is the right medication that can help your ovaries to release eggs normally. But there are risks involved like multiple birth and ovarian hyperstimulation. It can also cause abdominal bloating and pelvic pain.
Diabetes medicines and birth control pills can serve to reduce your PCOS symptoms. But these are only recommended to those who are not looking to get pregnant.
Most of the women struggling with PCOS symptoms are rarely given answers and are rather shamed for their choices and their size. It’s key to understand here that you need a person in your life who’s looking to give you insight and perspective. The best person for this job is a good doctor who guides you in the right direction and keeps empathy towards your problem.
PCOS is a life adjustment and you need to be smart about your choices that can improve your overall health conditions. You can feel your body betraying you on many levels but that must not encourage you to fiending for desperate measures like extreme diets.
It’s easy to get stayed by the ‘beauty standards’ of today’s social media times. Similarly, one might find herself getting demotivated due to regular failure while trying to lose weight in case of PCOS. But that shouldn’t be the reason for you to deter. Your body needs all the love while you are going through PCOS. It’s not a short journey and can be a little frustrating too sometimes.
But all you need is to slow down and meet my body where it is at. Empower it with health and learn to live with your condition one day at a time.