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Did You Know About These Signs & Symptoms of PCOS (Polycystic Ovary Syndrome)?

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A woman’s body is one of the most beautiful works of art. Irrespective of our shapes, sizes, and colours, the female anatomy is an enigma in all its perfections and imperfections. However, our reproductive organs make us susceptible to a specific host of issues. Be it menstrual cramps, labour pains, sore breasts, or premenstrual syndromes, pain somehow ends up becoming our physical destiny.The fact that we all excel at overcoming the whole gamut of pain and achieving stellar feats in every walk of life is a true testament to women being anything but the weaker sex. Stigmas and lack of awareness around menstrual hygiene, myths related to PCOS treatments, and the societal pressures around child-rearing conveniently place several unwanted hurdles in a woman’s life. If that wasn’t enough, one in every five women in India between the ages of 15 and 30 live with a “multifactorial metabolic disorder” called PCOS or Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome.

What is Polycystic Ovary Syndrome or PCOS meaning?

Many afflictions that a woman has to endure are related to the hormonal imbalance in their bodies. PCOS is one such ailment related to endocrine, reproductive, and metabolic disorders. It triggers off anomalous alterations to the female hormones in our bodies.While this disease’s exact cause is unknown, PCOS mainly stems from lifestyle choices, genetic arrangement, or some inherent resistances. Our ovaries produce estrogen and progesterone, which are typically female hormones. A small proportion of the male hormone androgen is also produced in our ovaries.Our ovaries produce a follicle that contains an egg and releases it for ovulation in the course of our menstrual cycles. PCOS manifests as multiple cysts in these follicles, which impedes the ovulation process. This spirals into a wide array of health issues, ranging from fertility problems to irregular menstruation and hirsutism. There is an urgent need to de-stigmatize the condition and debunk the myths around PCOS.

10 PCOS signs and Symptoms

Here are 10 common symptoms of PCOS problem in females:

1. Emotional Upheavals

Emotional upsurges or sudden flashes that are likely to have deep-rooted physical and psychological implications are common polycystic ovary syndrome symptoms. Mood swings, feelings of fatigue, vaginal irritation, and an overall sense of malaise often overpower women due to PCOS.

2. Weight Gain

PCOS and weight gain have been linked together in several studies. It is one of the direct impacts and weight gain in PCOS is often sudden and uncontrollable. These may be a drastic increase in some while gradual in others. One might even put on as much as 40 kilos in just a year. While this has been known to affect mental well-being, it is essential to uphold body positivity at all points. The crux of your attention is to be healthy, irrespective of your size. Don’t worry if you have to bid farewell to a couple of those college outfits. But, if you start feeling unwell for too long, you may need surgical interventions.

3. Hirsutism

PCOS alters the hormones that control our hair growth. Consequently, hirsutism causes people not only to suffer from excessive hair fall but also the development of facial hair. This has been known to have psychological impacts on many. Some opt for hair growth regulation tablets, while others resort to frequent razoring.

4. Irregular Periods

One of the most prominent PCOS signs and symptoms is delayed or irregular periods. It may range over a few weeks to a few months and even a couple of years of delay. You might suddenly have a heavy period flow or your periods can be absent for what seems like eternity. The endless and anxious checking of those tracker apps is something most living with PCOS relate to.

5. Heavy Flow during periods

It is a drought or deluge principle when it comes to PCOS. Your period gets delayed due to PCOS, but when it finally comes, it is marked by excessive bleeding. In some cases, this also leads to anemia. For the days when the flow is heavy, you will need heavy flow pads for good coverage.

6. Menstrual Cramps

Experiencing periods for those with PCOS is unbearably painful because of the heavy flow and the excruciating cramps that accompany the menstruation process. It is not uncommon for women to be bedridden for the first couple of days or excuse themselves from work due to the pain.

7. Complications in Pregnancies

One of the most heartbreaking realities about PCOS is that it creates numerous hurdles in conception. It jeopardizes the health of the mother. It also causes various complications in the birthing process. Fertility is grossly affected due to PCOS. Many couples have to wait for years to get pregnant, while others often resort to IVF and surrogacy to become parents.

8. Acne and Skin Eruptions

PCOS often triggers skin eruptions, rashes, and third-degree acne. The marks on the skin often impact mental well-being.

9. Depression

Mental afflictions are common PCOS symptoms. Be it anxiety over a delayed cycle of depression linked with hirsutism and acne, PCOS patients also suffer from depression frequently. PCOS and depression have been linked together several times in a number of studies conducted all around the globe.

10. Other Health Issues

You may experience other health problems later on in your life. Women with PCOS are at a higher risk of developing high cholesterol and blood pressure. Some women may also develop diabetes or sleep apnoea.

PCOS Diagnosis

There are no definitive tests to diagnose a condition such as PCOS. Your doctor will start your PCOS diagnosis with inquiries related to your medical history, menstrual cycles and weight changes. A physical exam may be conducted to check for other PCOS symptoms such as excessive hair growth, acne, insulin resistance, etc. Additionally, your doctor can also recommend a pelvic exam, ultrasound, and blood tests. If you are found to be diagnosed with PCOS, your doctor may recommend checking for blood pressure, and cholesterol, screening for depression, sleep apnea, etc. on a regular basis. The symptoms of PCOS may seem unbearable. However, do not lose hope. PCOS is not a life-threatening condition. Yet, if you have PCOS, you require timely medical interventions in the form of a PCOS treatment and frequent visits to a doctor to ensure the condition is under control.

PCOS Blood Test Hormone Levels

Understanding your hormone levels through blood tests is crucial to managing PCOS effectively. Do not hesitate or be reluctant to take these tests as they provide insights into the hormonal imbalances underlying PCOS symptoms.Some of the main hormones measured in PCOS blood tests include:
  1. Luteinising Hormone (LH): LH plays a key role in regulating the menstrual cycle and is often elevated in PCOS, contributing to irregular ovulation.
  2. Follicle-Stimulating Hormone (FSH): FSH stimulates the growth of ovarian follicles and is sometimes lower than usual in PCOS, affecting follicle development and ovulation.
  3. Testosterone: Elevated levels of testosterone, a male hormone, are common in PCOS and can lead to symptoms like acne, hirsutism, and fertility issues.
  4. Oestrogen: Oestrogen is a group of hormones primarily responsible for the development and regulation of the female reproductive system. Imbalances in oestrogen levels can disrupt the menstrual cycle and contribute to irregular periods.
  5. Progesterone: Progesterone is a hormone produced by the ovaries in the second half of the menstrual cycle. It helps prepare the uterus for implantation of a fertilised egg and maintains pregnancy if conception occurs. Low progesterone levels may result in irregular or absent menstrual periods in PCOS.
  6. Insulin: Insulin is a hormone produced by the pancreas that regulates blood sugar levels by facilitating the uptake of glucose into cells. It plays a central role in metabolism, energy storage, and maintaining blood sugar balance. Insulin resistance, common in conditions like PCOS, occurs when cells become less responsive to insulin's effects, leading to elevated blood sugar levels.
Here are the normal PCOS Blood Test Hormone Levels for your reference.
TestNormal Levels
Luteinising Hormone (LH)5 to 25 Internation Units/Litre
Follicle-Stimulating Hormone (FSH)1.5 to 12.4 International Units/Litre
Testosterone15 to 70 nanograms/decilitre
Oestrogen180-370 picomoles/Litre
Progesterone0.1 to 0.7 nanograms/millilitre in the follicular stage of the menstrual cycle. 2 to 25 nanograms/millilitre in the luteal stage of the menstrual cycle. 10 to nanograms/millilitre during the first trimester of pregnancy.
Insulin5–12 milli-International Units/Litre
We understand the uncertainty and frustration that comes with a PCOS diagnosis. Remember, you're not defined by this condition. With support, knowledge, and proactive management, you can navigate PCOS with resilience and empower yourself to live a fulfilling life despite its challenges. You're not alone! Reach out to us in the comments or on our social media pages. We're here for you.

FAQs

  1. What causes PCOS?

PCOS (Polycystic Ovary Syndrome) is caused by hormonal imbalances, including excess insulin and genetic factors, leading to irregular menstruation and follicle development.
  1. What are the risks of PCOS?

PCOS increases risks of infertility, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, endometrial cancer, and mental health issues due to hormonal imbalances and metabolic dysfunctions.
  1. What are the complications of PCOS?

Complications of PCOS include infertility, irregular menstruation, insulin resistance, obesity, sleep apnoea, depression, anxiety, and increased risk of diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
  1. Can PCOS cause a miscarriage?

PCOS may increase the risk of miscarriage due to hormonal imbalances affecting ovulation and the uterine lining, but it's not a direct cause.
  1. Can I get pregnant if I have PCOS?

Yes, although PCOS may make conception more challenging due to irregular ovulation, many women with PCOS can conceive with medical assistance or lifestyle changes.

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