Polycystic ovary syndrome/disease (PCOS/PCOD) is a group of symptoms due to dysfunction or irregularities of endocrine system during reproductive life. This is caused due to abnormal production of androgens or male sex hormones that are present in minor amounts in a female. The term ‘cysts’ denotes the immature ovarian follicles. PCOS mainly and primarily effects the ovary and the thus it is named after it. However, it shows a group of symptoms along with the major issue. A woman diagnosed with PCOS may have menstrual irregularities such as amenorrhea, dysmenorrhea as major symptoms. The main cause for the irregular menstruation is because of the presence of multiple follicles in the ovary instead of a single follicle. Multiple follicles are produced due to insufficieny of ovulatory hormones. A healthy woman without the condition will have only one follicle which release one single ovum from the ovary during the menstrual cycle. Where as, one with PCOS will have numerous follicles those are not matured and such follicles cannot release a healthy ovum. As a result it causes retardation of pregnancy or difficulty to conceive.
Usually the syndrome is diagnosed after puberty when menstrual irregularities are noticed. Nowadays PCOD had become very common disease among the youngsters due the sedentary lifestyle that one follows. Lack of exercise, sleep deprivation and unhealthy food habits contributes to the risk factors.
Other symptoms include weight gain or obesity, infertility, acanthosis nigricans (blackish
discoloration of neck, underarms, groins), acne, hirsutism(facial hair growth), hair fall and thinning of
hair. Women with PCOS are often insulin resistant and it may lead to risk of diabetes.
Weight Gain: Weight gain is due to abnormal increase in androgens. Weight gain is normally triggered by androgens in PCOD patients. Fat is mostly deposited in the abdomen.
Infertility: This is because of more than one follicles are present in the ovary of a PCOD patient instead of one healthy matured follicle. Numerous immature follicles fails to release one single ovum to the uterus which causes infertility. Due to the absence of ovum, even though if sperm reaches the uterus conception does not happen.
Acanthosis nigricans: It is because of the imbalance of reproductive hormones. It is the blackish discoloration of the skin especially in the neck, armpits, thighs and groins.
Acne: Over production of the androgens which in turn results in the abnormal oil production is the cause of acne. Acne is mostly present in the face, chin, neck, back and chest region.
Hirsutism: It is the presence of body hairs in a female especially in the face and the cause is over production of male sex hormones.
PCOS can be treated by changing our lifestyle and following a healthy diet. One can increase their daily activities or exercise to control the weight gain. A minimum sleep of 6 to 8 hours is very important in controlling the disease. Over eating and following a healthy diet lowers the risk of the disease. Junk foods, fast foods and sugar has a main role in increasing the risk of PCOS. Medications such as birth control pills, diabetes medicines are commonly used for the treatment of PCOD.Medications can also be used as per the symptoms such as acne and discoloration. However, the prime cause to be prevented to get rid of the disease completely.
Some of the complications of PCOS when left untreated includes type II diabetes mellitus, high blood pressure, infertility, recurrent miscarriage, cardiovascular disease, uterine cancer and depression are few among them.
PCOS can be cured and one of the main complication infertility can be resolved with proper diet, sleep, exercise and lifestyle modifications.
Diet: Main symptom obesity can be managed with proper diet. One should make dietary changes to
control the disease. Avoiding carbohydrates in diet and including fiber rich food is the main dietary
modification that to be followed. Include fishes such as salmon, tuna, mackerel, sardines which are
rich in omega-3 fatty acids. Green leafy vegetables, kale, spinach are rich sources of iron, vitamins
fiber and nutrients . Berries like blackberries, blueberries, grapes are also to be included in the diet.
Fast food, junk foods, sugar, fried food, pastries and red meat to be excluded from the diet.
Exercise: Regular exercise can control the condition and reduce the risk of obesity. Proper physical activity can normalize the hormones thus control the condition. Any physical activity such as cycling, swimming, yoga , walking, jogging at least for 30 minutes a day is sufficient.
Sleep: Sleep is one of the main factor for the metabolism and proper functioning of our body. Sleep for six to eight hours are required for a healthy individual. Staying away from stress and having sound sleep can cure the disease.
Contraceptive pills: Often contraceptive pills are given as a part of treatment of PCOD. The pill prevents ovulation which reduces number of cysts on the ovary.
Diabetes medication: Diabetes medication such as metformin is given to control insulin resistance in PCOS. Diabetes mellitus is one of the complication of PCOS.
Pregnancy: Even though pregnancy is not a treatment it can be considered as one of the safest method to cure PCOD. If a patient with PCOD conceives it means that the ovary is capable of releasing a healthy ovum. Married women can opt pregnancy as a treatment method if needed.