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 becomes 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 PCOS?
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.
Ten Things Those with PCOS Will Relate to:
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 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.
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 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 symptoms that manifest with the onset of PCOS 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.
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.
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 to check for blood pressure, 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.