Humans have complex bodies. And women, well there’s a lot that is yet undiscovered about women. Among us are many women whom we know to have PCOS or PCOD. Why is this disease so common? There are several factors that have contributed to such an occurrence. Also, it affects in different kinds of extremities to different women depending on the stage. Does it affect women’s behavior? Actually, it does. There are numerous aspects to this, and here’s how to understand them.
What is PCOS?
Polycystic ovary syndrome, PCOS is a disorder that occurs in women. It is caused mainly because of hormonal imbalance caused during the reproductive age in women. Hormone levels of the male hormone androgen are normally seen in excess amounts in women with PCOS. It can be diagnosed with a sonography. The ovaries will show follicles or small collections of fluid due to which the regular release of eggs is interrupted. Well, there are several aspects to PCOS that are to be considered and there are certain factors as well that cause PCOS in women.
Symptoms of PCOS
The symptoms of PCOS can be seen quite prominently in women. There are multiple symptoms that can help determine the disease. Although, not all women will show all and the same symptoms, a medical diagnosis from a certified doctor can only confirm the occurrence of PCOS. Some of the common symptoms are given as follows:
- Irregularity in periods
One of the most common PCOS symptoms is the irregularity or prolongation in periods. The periods can be delayed by months and once they arrive there can be excessive bleeding and the periods may even last up to 2 weeks or more. In such cases, it is advisable to consult a doctor.
- Issues with getting pregnant
Formation of eggs does not take place regularly and properly which, therefore, causes difficulty in getting pregnant. The ovulation cycle is also difficult to track and hence it is not easy to plan intercourse accordingly.
Growth of excessive hair in the unusual areas is termed as hirsutism. It is a common PCOS symptom which is generally a result of secretion of androgen. The hair growth is normally observed on the face, chest and the back.
PCOS causes obesity and if not treated on time it can worsen the PCOS. Weight loss has a major role in the PCOS treatment.
- Hair fall
Thinning of hair is also a common phenomenon for women with PCOS. Hair fall occurs even when the hair is not being combed or washed. The hair follicles become loose and hence cannot hold the hair eventually shedding it.
Oily and unhealthy skin are also a result of hormonal dysfunction. It is also known that oily skin is more prone to acne than dry skin. Acne can be seen on not only the face but on upper arms, back or in the pubic region.
There are multiple ways to treat PCOS in women. The manner of treatment will majorly depend on the case. In some cases, changes in the lifestyle can help in curing the symptoms, while in other cases, medication can become necessary. PCOS treatment can be done in two ways, by making lifestyle chances or by taking medication. These ways can be understood as follows:
- Making changes in lifestyle
Most of the times, PCOS leads to weight gain in females which can further lead to various serious diseases in the later age. Even a minor weight loss can show significant results regarding the disease. Also, healthy weight will differ from person to person which can be calculated with BMI – body mass index. BMI is nothing but the measurement of one’s weight in relation to their height. Weight loss can be done by exercising and following a proper diet formulated by an expert. Being healthy and in proper weight is essential for PCOS treatment.
The medication that is prescribed will depend on the symptom that is to be focused on for the treatment. The course of medicine will be different for different kinds of treatments required for the individual patient. If it is a case of irregular periods, contraceptives are generally recommended to women. The course of tablets to be taken will again vary, some are given course of a month while others may be given a course every three to four months with intervals. Acquiring treatment on the right time can also reduce the possibility of cancer and other such risks that tag along.
In severe cases of PCOS, a surgery is suggested by the doctor. When the cysts have grown significantly in number, the pain is unbearable and surgery is the only treatment that can aid the pain. A simple and minimally invasive method is incorporated for this way of treatment called laparoscopic ovarian drilling (LOD). It is also preferred when medication is no longer helpful. It is carried out under general anesthesia and laser or any other kind of applicable surgical method is used to get rid of the ovarian cysts.
How does it affect a woman’s behavior?
Since there is hormonal imbalance, changes in the behavior are bound to happen. There can be different kinds of behavioral changes that can be observed in women which will vary depending on the severity of the disorder. There is also a major risk of mental health issues to PCOS patients. Such changes in the nature of women are generally seen once they hit puberty as that is when the eggs start to form.
The mood swings
Mood swings are quite common in women with PCOS. What do mood swings exactly mean? When a sudden change in the mental state or mood is observed, it is termed as mood swing. Some think it is very natural for women to have mood because perhaps that is the way they were created. However, that is just a myth. Mood swings are actually an indicator that the woman has some sort of discomfort. It is true that mood swings are a common thing during periods, although, if these are observed even when the woman is not on her periods, there are a lot of possibilities that must be considered, and PCOS is one among them.
Secretion of hormones
As mentioned previously, there is irregular and inappropriate amount of secretion of hormones when a woman is suffering from PCOS. The male hormone, androgen, is secreted in inadequate amounts which can lead to growth of excessive hair on the face, chest, back and buttocks. The hormone also makes the voice of the woman deeper and certain other kinds of masculine features can also be observed.
What else do you need to know?
There is a lot more to PCOS and the suffering of women who have been diagnosed of this disorder. The research on PCOS is still continued by several researchers and there have been new findings as well. Majorly, the researchers intend to grow the awareness of PCOS and several related measures are also being taken.
PCOS doesn’t just affect fertility
Well, fertility is majorly affected by PCOS but that is not it. According to a research conducted by Sarah C Hillman and her group at the University of Warwick Medical School, women face a lot of health risks that can affect their physical health as well as mental health. Sarah C Hillman, the main author stated that, “We have found that women haven’t been informed of the long-term increased risks of PCOS, or were only told about a few of them. For instance, women weren’t necessarily seen as being at an increased risk of any type of diabetes.”
However, diabetes is not where the risks of PCOS are limited. There are behavioral changes, yes, but more importantly, there are risks of mental illnesses as well. It is quite often that women with PCOS are found to have low self-esteem and confidence and are generally timid in nature. At times, this can get serious and the woman can suffer from depression, anxiety and other kinds of mental illnesses.
“We need to view it as a medical condition that affects women in a numerous ways throughout their course of life. It is not only about ovaries,” Sarah added.
PCOS is not considered as a serious disorder by women themselves. The indifference to futuristic risks that tag along has made women not to seek proper treatment in time. Awareness of PCOS needs to take place in order for women suffering from it to understand the consequences and the risks they will be taking if no treatment is pursued.
Women generally have to go the extra mile to get the correct information and understand their condition. This has also led to ignorance about the disorder and how severely it can affect women in their present lives and the future. PCOS is also genetic, which means, that the daughter of a woman suffering from PCOS is also likely to develop cysts in her ovaries. Hence, it is extremely crucial that women get proper information about PCOS and right treatment should be made available to them.
Lean women have PCOS too
It has been understood for a long time that obese women are the ones who are more likely to have PCOS. However, that is not the case anymore. An increase in the number of skinny women having PCOS has been recorded. Hence, obesity is not the only factor that is to be considered at the time of PCOS diagnosis. Stress and low BMI are also the factors that need to be taken into count.
If BMI is extremely low and no proper diet is maintained, there are chances that the PCOS may worsen. For this, a balanced diet with appropriate amounts of protein, carbohydrate and other components. Deficiency of protein and loss of energy can also contribute to the cause of PCOS. If the woman is lean and supposedly healthy, medication is generally avoided and changes in lifestyle are recommended. Medication is normally prescribed to those women who are also suffering from thyroid, diabetes, or if they have a possibility of developing diabetes in the future.
This is so because if the woman has no above listed disorders, there are chances that they can recover by exercising and maintaining a proper diet. Just a few amends in the day to day life can help boost the PCOS treatment. There is still a chance that it can return if changes made in the lifestyle were undone. However, if PCOS is not that serious it can still be controlled.
If women have certain kind of related disorders, medication becomes necessary to treat their PCOS. It is so because be it diabetes or thyroid, it needs to be treated directly as these contribute to obesity and as specified previously, obesity worsens PCOS. Exercising and a diet can also help in curing these additional disorders and are also recommended by the doctors along with the medication.