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All you need to know to find out if you have PCOS, and what are its causes.

PCOS is a condition which can affect the fertility of a woman.

What is PCOS?

Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) is also known as PCOS. It is a group of symptoms that affects a woman’s hormone levels, ovaries, menstrual cycle and reproductive organs. Approximately 5 to 10 per cent of women between the age of 12 to 44 get affected by this condition. On average 27 per cent of women suffer from this condition during their childbearing years. Women suffering from PCOS produce high amounts of male hormones which lead to irregular periods and infertility. It also causes acne and abnormal hair growth on the face and body and baldness. In PCOS, small sacks filled with fluid start growing inside the ovaries which are known as a cyst that disrupt the ovulation process. Lack of ovulation lowers the estrogen and progesterone levels, while androgen (male hormone) levels shoot up. This leads to irregular and fewer menstrual cycles. But with early diagnosis, its symptoms can be controlled and the patient can live a normal and healthy life.   

Symptoms of PCOS 

The most common symptoms of PCOS are irregular periods, infertility, acne, abnormal hair growth on the face and body and baldness. Most symptoms begin shortly after puberty but they can develop during late teens and early adulthood also. Apart from these common symptoms, there are certain other symptoms also which include:

  1. Frequent mood swings.
  2. Dark patches and skin tags (excess skin) on the neck, under the breast, in the groin and in the armpits.
  3. Excess weight gain.
  4. Difficulty in losing weight.
  5. Frequent pelvic pain.
  6. Heavy bleeding during periods.
  7. Headaches and fatigue.
  8. Thinning hair.
  9. Sleep apnea.

If you experience any of the above symptoms then consult your gynecologists

Causes of PCOS

Although, there are no known reasons for PCOS, however, it is believed that high levels of male hormones disrupt the production of hormones from ovaries and make eggs normally.

Genetic: Studies show that PCOS can be genetic. Women are likely to develop PCOS if their mother or sister has this condition. If a mother has PCOS, then there are 40% chances of her female child to develop it also.

Obesity: According to doctors, excess weight can lead to PCOS. Approximately 80% of the PCOS patients are on the higher side of the weighing scale. An ideal Body Mass Index (BMI) should be 25 but when it exceeds 27-28, it becomes alarming. Studies also suggest that losing 5 to 10 percent of total body weight can help in regulating periods and improve symptoms of PCOS.

Insulin resistance: Some studies suggest that up to 70 percent of women with PCOS have insulin resistance which means that their cells can’t use insulin completely. The pancreas starts producing more insulin which triggers the ovaries to produce more androgen. And Type 2 diabetes patients are more likely to develop it.

Inflammation: Excess body weight can contribute to inflammation and that can lead to high levels of androgen. Women with PCOS can have increased levels of inflammation.  

What are the risks?

Women with PCOS have a higher risk of developing other serious health complications. It can raise the risk of diabetes, high cholesterol, hypertension, anxiety, depression, heart attack, endometrial cancer, gestational diabetes, metabolic syndrome, ovarian and breast cancer, premature delivery and high blood pressure.

Diet and lifestyle to treat PCOS

According to Hasti Singh, Fitness and Sports Nutrition Expert, low carbohydrate diets are very effective for PCOS patients. Natural, unprocessed foods, lean proteins, fatty fish like tuna, salmon and sardines, high fibre food, whole grains, spinach, broccoli, cauliflower, blueberries, cherries, lentils olive oil, coconut, almonds, pine nuts, turmeric, cinnamon and magnesium, zinc-rich foods should be added in daily diet. Whereas fried foods, sugary beverages, red meat, excess intake of caffeine and processed food should be avoided. Instead switch to herbal tea and green tea.

Lifestyle changes can also bring significant changes in PCOS conditions. Research has shown that combining a PCOS diet with ample physical activity can improve the condition. 

Approximately 60 percent of women with PCOS have vitamin D deficiency. So by adding it to your diet one can see a remarkable improvement in the symptoms of PCOS.

If lifestyle changes don’t work then your doctor may suggest medication to restore normal menstrual cycles and relieve its symptoms.

Hasti Singh is an athlete, a bodybuilding champion, physiotherapist, and motivational speaker who is working as a personal trainer and sports nutrition expert for over a decade. He represented India in various national & international Body Building and Wrestling Championships and became Mr India 2016. He has successfully transformed the lives of thousands of people through physical fitness coaching and psychiatric counselling.

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