PCOS is so common that one in five women in India experience it. PCOS symptoms are hard to differentiate with symptoms of other diseases; I overlooked all the symptoms I was experiencing and I thought it was because of my sedentary lifestyle.
Owing to all the fast food I gulp and facial hair may be a genetic thing, I thought that’s the reason I skip my periods and have a big belly. Only when after five years of marriage I was not able to conceive I found that I have PCOS. Thus, I realized how ignoring PCOS for a long time can adversely affect the fertility of females.
In PCOS, the ovaries can produce multiple small fluid collections (follicles) and fail to release eggs regularly, causing infertility.
What is happening to my eggs? Well, the real causes of PCOS are not unknown, and it cannot be cured; however, it can be treated with medications along with lifestyle changes.
Do lifestyle changes sound impossible? Surely you don't want to be a lazy mom, but an active mom isn't it?
Here's how you can differentiate the five significant symptoms of PCOS, because, to date, doctors provide treatment only for signs of PCOS.
- Male hormone levels are high: Am I too manly?
Ever wonder why your friend doesn't need waxing for months, and within the blink of an eye, you become all hairy once again? Women with PCOS have an increased level of androgens (a male hormone called testosterone; generally present in women in small amounts), which causes infertility problems. Also, it results in hair loss and excess growth of hairs in unwanted body parts, such as the face. You are not manly but have PCOS.
- Insulin resistance - flat belly is a dream for me
Women with PCOS tend to develop insulin resistance. This is the reason they gain weight, especially around the belly area. Most women hanging around McD and Pizza hut have a flat belly, but you are on a greens-only diet and still wondering why your belly is so big? Insulin resistance is associated with many metabolic disorders and increases the risk of diabetes mellitus, dyslipidemia. Some researchers have found a significant association between insulin resistance, body mass index, PCOS markers, and depression.
- Did I remember my last period date incorrectly?
Forgetting periods is not a big deal. I never experienced it on time. Women with PCOS have decreased levels of progesterone, which results in irregular periods. Decreased progesterone production decreases serotonin secretion, which can lead to inadequate sleep and anxiety. Reduced amounts of progesterone also prevent the calming effects of estrogenic from balancing and may lead to anxiety. So, it's not because you are too wild to forget your periods. Actually, you never get it on time.
- What exactly is a cyst?
Cysts are present in both PCOS and PCOD. Wait! What? So how to differentiate? PCOS, as described above, is a syndrome in which several cysts (liquid-filled sacs) begin to grow in both ovaries due to the higher production of androgens. They are large and often made from immature eggs and other bodily secretions. This results in an irregular menstrual cycle or delayed periods. Whereas in (Polycystic Ovary Disease) PCOD immature eggs take up the formation of the cyst as they are not able to get discharged due to hormonal changes, but these cyst forms are smaller and also less in number. Therefore, PCOD is not as complicated as the PCOS problem.
Yes, PCOS is a big deal! Healthy and holistic lifestyles, which include regular exercise, proper sleep, a good diet along with medical treatment, can remarkably reduce the symptoms of PCOD by three months but are challenging to treat the symptoms of PCOS.
- Skin problems: No, it's not an allergy; it's my face!
When all remedies and abundant fruit juice don't work for your skin, you have to find out the right cause to get the right treatment. Acne and dark patches are common in many hormonal or endocrine disorders, so how to differentiate whether you have skin problems due to PCOS or Thyroid or Cushing syndrome?
Rule out the test: There is currently no single laboratory test that could diagnose PCOS. A gynaecologist usually reviews a mixture of clinical observations such as signs and symptoms, medical history of the family, and physical examination, as well as results of laboratory testing to help make a diagnosis.
When signs and symptoms are similar, a thyroid test is done to rule out a thyroid disorder.
Rule out the test for other disorders where skin problems are one of the symptoms. A cortisol level test is done to discard Cushing syndrome and (hydroxyprogesterone) 17-OHP test to rule out congenital adrenal hyperplasia.
Once diagnosed with PCOS through ultrasound, signs and symptoms, complete lipid profile, and glucose test is done to check the cardiovascular health and overall severity of the disease.
Comprehensive information about PCOS development and progression would prompt earlier diagnosis of girls with high risk for developing PCOS. The timely establishment of individualized clinical interventions will significantly improve the management of PCOS in adolescent girls and reduce related risk factors and enhance the quality of life. Women with PCOS are managed effectively by cross-disciplinary healthcare professionals consisting of endocrinologists, physicians, gynaecologists, nutritionists, neurologists, or family doctors.
Alternative treatment methods such as Homeopathy, Ayurveda, and Naturopathy should also be explained to adolescents for overall health management and women who are finding difficulty in conceiving. Don't panic stress can aggravate the symptoms, and a holistic approach will keep you calm in your journey of managing the symptoms.