Every year, millions of women visit a healthcare provider with a similar range of symptoms- irregular periods, unrelenting acne, unexplained weight gain, or infertility. This set of symptoms is experienced by many women from all age groups, across all geographies.
What their healthcare worker will tell most of these women is that you have PCOS. So, what exactly is PCOS, the condition that affects millions of menstruating women?
Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, or PCOS, is a hormonal disorder that may cause enlarged ovaries, excess androgen, and irregular periods. The condition typically starts around the time of the individual’s first period.
Why is awareness of PCOS important?
While PCOS symptoms can be managed using various treatments, the inherent nature of the condition increases the individual’s risk of developing conditions such as type 2 diabetes and heart disease. If the individual wishes to become pregnant at some point in their life, awareness of PCOS can help them better understand their fertility.
That’s not all. The symptoms of PCOS can impact psychological and emotional well-being as well. The uncertainty regarding periods and pregnancy, mood swings brought on by hormonal fluctuations, social anxiety brought on by persistent acne, and hair growth contribute to distress.
Hence, awareness of PCOS is important to be better prepared to handle their holistic well-being.
What are the symptoms of PCOS?
Looking out for the symptoms of PCOS can help in early detection. Here are the typical symptoms of PCOS:
– Irregular or missed periods
– Pelvic pain
– Weight gain
– Mood changes
– Darkened skin, usually under the armpits or neck
– Facial hair growth, hair loss
Do note that not all individuals with PCOS will experience all the symptoms or with the same intensity. Sometimes, they may not experience any symptoms at all.
What causes PCOS?
There is no conclusive evidence of what causes PCOS. However, correlational studies show that one has a higher chance of getting PCOS if they have a first degree relative with it. Some research also indicates a correlation between obesity and PCOS.
How do you know you have PCOS?
Since the symptoms of PCOS are similar to that of other hormone-related conditions, often the diagnosis for PCOS gets missed. To prevent that, your healthcare worker will run some blood tests, do a pelvic exam, and an ultrasound to check for unhealthy masses or abnormalities. The tests also help to rule out other conditions.
What are the possible treatments?
There is no cure for PCOS yet. The focus is on managing the symptoms and making life easier for the individual. Here are the most preferred ways of managing the effects of PCOS:
- Birth control pills
Combination birth control pill like Mankind’s Unwanted 21, Regular Oral Contraceptive Tablet is recommended to regulate the hormones. The individual takes a pill each day for 21 days, has her period, and then starts with a new pack. The progestin and estrogen in the combination pills help regulate the period, control acne and unwanted facial hair growth. Note that combination pills are different from emergency pills like Mankind’s Unwanted 72, Emergency Contraceptive Tablets which is also India’s no. 1 Emergency Contraceptive Tablet, taken within 72 hours of unprotected sex.
- Lifestyle changes
Maintaining a healthy weight and diet and exercising regularly helps to regulate blood sugar levels. This may help prevent diabetes and other related complications. Consult your healthcare worker to understand the best possible treatments for you based on your lifestyle, medical history, and personal preferences.
Having PCOS can certainly be nerve-wracking. That’s why you need to ensure that you have a good support system, access to good healthcare, and relevant information to help you deal with the uncertainty of the condition. Remember to separate the condition from who you are as a person.