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Polycystic ovarian syndrome, also called PCOS, is a debilitating medical condition that affects around 5 - 10% of women around the world.
In fact, in India, it is one of the most common hormonal problems faced by women.
But what exactly is PCOS? And what should women do once they are diagnosed with it?
These are some of the questions we asked our health expert, Dr. Anita Mohan, MD Obstetrics and Gynaecology (Fortis Hospital, Bangalore). And this is what she had to say about it.
Ria: What is PCOS?
Dr. Anita Mohan: PCOS stands for polycystic ovarian syndrome. It is commonly seen in females between 13 to 40 years of age.
Ria: Why does it occur? What are its causes?
Dr. Anita Mohan: The exact cause for PCOS is unknown. But early diagnosis and treatment help to prevent Diabetes Mellitus and heart disease later in life. Possible causes are excess insulin, androgens, inflammation, and genetics.
Ria: What are the typical signs and symptoms of this condition?
Dr. Anita Mohan: Typical concerns of women with PCOS include delayed menses (which can be scanty or heavy), acne, hirsutism (excessive facial hair) and weight gain. Difficulty in conceiving can also be the only complaint.
Ria: Polycystic ovarian syndrome is a risk factor for various medical conditions and diseases. Can you tell us what they are?
Dr. Anita Mohan: Most important risks associated with PCOS are:-
- Gestational diabetes (diabetes during pregnancy)
- Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus
- Hypertension (high BP)
- High cholesterol
- Abnormal menses
- Uterine cancer
Ria: And what are the risk factors that increase the possibility of getting PCOS?
Dr. Anita Mohan: Certain women are more likely to get PCOS, especially if they are overweight, have childhood obesity, or if it runs in the family.
Ria: Can a woman diagnosed with PCOS have a child? Or does she become infertile?
Dr. Anita Mohan: Women with PCOS can surely conceive and deliver a baby. But she would require some assistance from her doctor.
Ria: So what are the complications that develop during pregnancy and delivery for women who have PCOS?
Dr. Anita Mohan: Gestational diabetes is a common complication seen in women with PCOS. Also, a large baby may require a cesarean section.
Ria: What should women do once they are diagnosed? Both in terms of treatment options and ways to control the symptoms of PCOS.
Dr. Anita Mohan: Once the diagnosis of PCOS has been made, women are advised about lifestyle changes like improvement in their diet by increasing fiber and protein intake, and reducing carbohydrate and sugar intake.
Medicines like Metformin [ an anti-diabetic drug for type 2 diabetes] and contraceptive pills help regulate the menses. Other treatment may also be required depending upon the specific needs of the woman. For example, facial hair may need laser treatment.
It is important to have regular or yearly check-ups to pick up other complications.
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