By:-Dr. Pooja Mittal 30 Oct, 2017
Polycystic ovarian syndrome or Polycystic Ovarian Disease is a common health problem among women caused by an imbalance of reproductive hormones. Because of this hormonal imbalance, the functioning of ovaries becomes disordered, they may not produce an egg each month or the egg is not released as it should happen normally. This results in problems with conceiving, irregular periods and a host of other symptoms.
PCOS can affect a woman any time after puberty, but most commonly women come to know that they have PCOS in their 20s and 30s when they visit the doctor due to infertility, irregular periods or other symptoms. PCOS happens in reproductive age group (between ages 15 and 44 years). The incidence is 2 to 26%. One has a greater risk of having PCOS if one is obese, has a sedentary lifestyle, or if one’s mother, sister or aunt has it.
One should visit the gynaecologist if one has concerns about periods, if there is difficulty in conceiving, or has problems like excessive hair, weight gain, hair fall or acne.
The exact cause of PCOS is not known. Factors like genetics and unhealthy lifestyle and diet play a role.
Insulin resistance and high insulin levels – Insulin is a hormone that controls how the food we eat is converted into energy and how this energy is used up. Many women with PCOS particularly those with obesity have tissue resistance to insulin leading to high insulin levels. This can predispose to Type 2 Diabetes.
High levels of androgens – Androgens are male hormones but women also have small amount of androgens in their bodies. Women with PCOS have higher than normal levels of androgens in their bodies which causes unwanted hair, hair fall and acne. Abnormal androgens also prevent release of egg from the ovary every month and this leads to difficulty in conception.
PCOS leads to changes in a woman’s appearance, overall health and life; hence it is important to treat it.
Studies have found a link between PCOS and a host of other health problems including:
PCOS can pose problems for the woman and the baby during pregnancy. Women with PCOS have higher rates of:
Women with PCOS can be prescribed medication to regularize their periods, normalize hormone levels, decrease high androgen levels, and reduce insulin resistance and to help conception. A thorough evaluation, history and investigations will generally be done for the woman before prescribing medicines.