Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) is a medical condition occurring in females which causes hormonal imbalance. In general, female patients produce higher amounts of male hormones, which causes complications. These issues include missing menstrual periods, unnecessary hair growth on body parts, pregnancy issues and even loss of hair.
Overview of PCOS
PCOS is a hormonal imbalance issue that is found in female patients ranging between 15-44 years of age. Medical surveys have shown that it is more prevalent than expected, with 70 percent of the patients being unaware prior to diagnosis.
PCOS targets the organs which produce and regulate progesterone and estrogen, such as the ovaries. Ovaries naturally produce very limited amounts of androgens, which are male hormones. However, PCOS patients have higher amounts of androgens within their body along with disturbances in their ovulation cycle.
The condition is normally treated with Luteinizing Hormone (LH) and Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH). FSH works by acting as a trigger for the ovaries, which produce a follicle (sac with egg) as a response. The LH triggers the ovaries to release that egg. This aids in normalizing the ovulation cycle.
PCOS is characterized by the growth of multiple cysts inside the ovaries. These are actually follicles containing immature eggs. As a result, they do not trigger ovulation as it is only done for mature eggs. This, in turn, causes the estrogen, progesterone, FSH and LH levels to deviate from normal levels. The presence of androgens further suppresses periods.
PCOS is not caused by just one factor, as there are many conditions which contribute towards developing the complication.
- Hereditary Causes: Medical studies have found links for PCOS having hereditary causes. Patients with a history of the diseases in their family are susceptible to developing it.
- Insulin Resistance: Medical studies have found about 70 percent of PCOS patients to have insulin resistance. This restricts their cells from properly utilizing insulin, which primarily causes abnormal blood sugar levels. Since the cells are unable to utilize insulin, the body triggers a response, which causes increased insulin production. This stimulates the production of androgens, which cause interference with ovulation.
- Chronic Inflammation: PCOS patients experience increased levels of inflammation. Obesity is a contributing factor to it, which further aggravates the condition.
PCOS Symptoms include:
- Irregular menstruation cycles owing to reduced ovulation.
- More than normal bleeding during periods.
- Unnecessary hair growth on parts of the body where it is not normal.
- Skin conditions such as acne are also caused by PCOS.
- 80 percent of the patients are overweight with unhealthy Body Mass Index (BMI).
- Hair shedding leading to baldness occurs.
- Skin areas with higher amounts of pigmentation can start developing.
- The hormonal imbalance causes migraines and headaches.
Effects of PCOS on Health
PCOS causes both medical complications on its own and also acts as a contributing factor.
PCOS interferes with the normal ovulation cycle, which consequently decreases the number of mature eggs that are ready to be fertilized.
80 percent of the patients suffer from obesity. This is caused by lowered metabolism. PCOS and obesity work vice versa, with one condition, increases the chances of the other one.
PCOS causes patients to have irregular breathing patterns during sleep. Notably, the involuntary and unconscious pausing of breathing.
Fluctuating hormones combined with both deteriorating physical and psychological conditions in patients can swiftly lead to depression. It is imperative to continue treatment and take care of physical and mental health to avoid it.
Treatment for PCOS is most effective when medication is combined with an alternate lifestyle, nutrition, and exercise.
Boosting metabolism isn’t easy, as relying on medicine alone creates dependency. This boost stops immediately when the medicine is ditched. In order to have long-lasting effects, lifestyle changes should be accommodated. A physical activity plan should be drafted first, which incorporates exercise to boost metabolism. A 30-minute brisk workout 5 days a week with 2 rest days is adequate for boosting metabolism.
The effects are quite profound, even for small weight loss. Losing just 2 to 5 percent of body weight in obese patients resulted in lower testosterone and insulin levels as well as better ovulation and hormonal balance. The exercise should target the belly fat, as it exerts pressure on the organs in the abdomen, especially the ovaries.
Choosing the Right Diet
Many PCOS patients suffer from dietary imbalance because of metabolic abnormalities. These lead to unpredictable periods of insatiable hunger and complete satiation, making it hard to balance diet. It is recommended to stick with a balanced diet plan to ensure the body receives ample nutrition. Moreover, the body benefits from the diet by being able to normalize metabolism.
Start with the basics by cutting back on saturated fats, simple carbohydrates and adding more fiber and proteins. Measure your dietary requirements as per BMI and consume food accordingly. Consult a dietician to devise a proper diet that will be suitable for the condition.
Exercise is the best way to promote better health. It activates the glands to produce hormones in a normal fashion and ensures better physical health. A 30-minute exercise routine every 5 out of 7 days is recommended for patients to keep in good physical form. Apart from the usual benefits of reducing overall fat deposits, promoting mental wellbeing, higher energy levels and better, stabilized hormones, it also reduces belly fat. Many PCOS symptoms are alleviated as a result because belly fat exerts pressure on the internal organs, particularly the ovaries.
Reducing stress in daily life is a great way to fight off PCOS symptoms. Stress is a major contributor to hormonal imbalance, hence it should be significantly reduced in the patients. De-stressing can be easily achieved by reducing or dividing daily workload, planning the day beforehand with timings to manage sudden responsibilities and generally adapting lifestyle to suit personal needs. Consulting a psychologist is advised for patients who require assistance in managing their mental health.
Managing Life with PCOS
Like all chronic medical complications, PCOS is also one which requires changes in lifestyle. These can be planned to adjust with daily routines to ensure normal workflow and life. Follow these tips and learn from the information to achieve a proper life with PCOS and enjoy it to the fullest.