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PCOS- Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome- Cause, Symptoms, Diagnosis, Diet

It is remarkable that today through this article; I can bring forth a problem typical to the women of the globe- Polycystic Ovarian Disease/ Syndrome. PCOS is in its nature a very stressful disorder. With all the incapacities attached, it even makes the contraction of this disorder a huge social stigma for women. Let me first begin to clarify, this can happen to any woman irrespective of her colour, race, religion, caste, nationality. It is a common disorder and is very much curable/preventable. This article shall throw some light on the causes, symptoms and the diet that must accompany as a preventive and curative measure.

It is a hormone imbalance that causes delayed menstrual cycles, unwanted hair growth and acne.  It usually sets in during the teenage years of a girl.

What Happens in PCOS?

You may be aware of hormones- they are the chemical messengers of our bodily system. They are secreted by various glands directly into our blood stream. They play an extremely crucial role in our growth and development. In a condition of PCOS, the pituitary gland excretes an excess of a hormone called LH. As a result, extra testosterone is secreted. When extra of this hormone is secreted, multiple cysts are formed in the ovaries. This results into delayed menstrual cycle amongst girls and women. Further, as this syndrome further progresses, the ovary is enlarged and it produces excessive amount of androgen and estrogenic hormones.

To put the long story short- when a woman has delayed or irregular menstrual cycles, the eggs which are evacuated from her body during menstrual cycles are not formed. This means that no ovulation occurs and as a result, the menstrual cycles are delayed. This neither lets her body produce new eggs, nor regulates the timely exclusion of the existing eggs, thus creating complications of infertility. The over production of various hormones leads to other problems like unwanted hair, increased weight, acne, etc.

Causes of PCOS:

While the exact cause of it is unknown, this disorder may be passed on from one generation to the next. When a woman has consistent high levels of androgens and estrogens, she is likely to contract this disease. Obesity could make matters even worse as the fatty tissues are hormonally active and produce estrogen which makes matter worse and disrupts ovulation.

Ocult PCOD:

While some women with PCOD will have all the classic symptoms and signs, many have what we call “occult PCOD”. This means that they may be thin, have regular periods, no hirsutism (excessive hair growth) and normal looking ovaries on ultrasound, but still have PCOD. This problem is detected only when these patients are super ovulated, at which time they over-respond by producing a large number of follicles. Such women may often have problems of recurring miscarriages and it may be difficult for the doctor to find out the reason for the same.

Symptoms of PCOS:

 

Somtom
  • Irregular period is the most common symptom of PCOS.
  • Weight gain
  • Fatigue
  • Darkening of skin
  • Acne problem
  • Mood changes
  • Sleep disorders
  • Increased insulin levels which leads to high level of androgen.

Diagnosis of PCOS:

Typically, the doctor first inquires to find out how regular your menstrual cycles are. Furthermore, you may be required to get a blood test done in order to check your fasting glucose levels, thyroid function and lipid levels. An ultrasound scan is done in order to detect presence of cyst on the ovaries.

Treatment for PCOS

The treatment is directed according to the goal that you may want to achieve. Most women want to treat the problem of infertility which is caused due to PCOS. There are women who want to get rid of the other side effects that the disorder brings with itself like acne, darkened skin, excessive hair growth and obesity. Regardless of what you wish to achieve as your primary goal, it is very much a disorder that you may want to get rid of as soon as you get to know you are suffering due to the long term risks that it carries.

Orally administered fertility medicines are induced in order to treat a patient desiring to get rid of the infertility aspect. Since high levels of insulin are also a cause of the syndrome, medications are administered upon the patient to reduce the insulin levels.

For those who do not focus at treating their fertility disorder, oral contraceptive pills are prescribed in order to control the acne, the excessive hair, regulate menstrual cycle, and prevent endometrial cancer and also to prevent pregnancy.

Surgical methods are also used but they do not provide a permanent solution. In the surgery, a portion of the ovary is removed to decrease the amount of androgen produced by the Polycystic Ovarian Disease ovary. However, inspite of successful results, the treatment has various other side effects like loss of valuable ovarian tissue, infertility and pelvic adhesions. Laser drilling treatment has been used as a recent trend to treat the issue.

 

Source- YouTube

Diet for PCOS

In order to keep the symptoms related to this disease at a minimal level, we need to understand how this problem occurs. Women suffering with PCOS have higher than normal levels of insulin which produce androgens like testosterone. Insulin is a hormone produced by our pancreas which is responsible to regulate the sugar levels in our body. If enough insulin is not produced by the body, the blood sugar rises. Sometimes, the body produces required amount of insulin but our body cannot use it up, that is, our body is insulin resistant.

Insulin resistance may lead to w weight gain and the Body Mass Index may increase. It becomes extremely challenging to lose weight in this scenario and that is why women with PCOS suffer with this issue. A starchy diet, one full of carbohydrates can only aggravate the situation. It is thus advised that low carb food is opted for.

Adding the following food may help you control this situation:

  • High fibrous vegetable such as broccoli, cauliflower, brussel sprouts.
  • Green leafy vegetables like spinach, fenugreek, red leaf lettuce.
  • Bell peppers- green and red in colour
  • Beans
  • Lentils
  • Dry fruits such as almonds, raisins, apricots
  • Berries
  • Pumpkin

Protein Rich foods such as:

  • Chicken
  • Tofu
  • Fish
  • Cottage cheese

Foods that reduce inflammation such as:

Along with diet, it is important that the affected women maintain a healthy regime of exercise. It is not only crucial for their weight loss but also helps to maintain an overall health of the person. It must be remembered that women suffering with this disorder should refrain from eating foods which leads to formation of fats inside the body. Fried Foods, Cakes, Carbohydrates, Sugars, sweets must be avoided to keep a check on insulin resistance.

Choose healthier food options, try baked instead of fried chips. Replace white bread with a healthy wheat bread for an option, avoid sweetened fruit juices and instead opt for conventional fruit salads without any cream or seasoning. It is advised that women with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome eat small meals at regular interval instead of large meals at with more time lapse between the meals. Ensure that you do some or the other activities after you have had your meal. A quick walk down your office is also sufficient post lunch or supper. Walking is the best form of exercise. Resort to early morning walks and exercises.

What is ENDOMETRIAL CANCER?

Endometrium is the inner lining of the uterus. When cells in the endometrium start to increase and multiply rapidly, they can cause cancer. Researchers believe that PCOS could be a  seed that grows into the dreadful tree of endometrial cancer.

ENDOMETRIAL CANCER- National Cancer Institute

 

The world has been a little unfair to women some time or the other. Women are judged for everything they do since times immemorial. In such a scenario, it becomes difficult for a girl suffering with PCOS to cope up with her reduced confidence levels. This disorder is particularly stressful as its signs and symptoms are visible on a woman in ugly and undesirable forms. Above all this, there is a particular social stigma attached to women who are infertile. It is important that the society including you and me, we understand that this disorder is like any other medical condition and the patient is not to be blamed for it. None of her lifestyles are responsible for the occurrence of PCOS. However, a healthy lifestyle can reduce the external visible signs.

Shabnam Vandeliwala

Venturing into writing is my second most admired hobby after litigating in courts. An advocate by profession, writing gives me immense sense of satisfaction especially in the time that I'm free from other work.

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