Poly Cystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) is a hormonal disorder occurring in women, though it starts predominantly in the adolescents. This syndrome is characterized by multiple cysts in both the ovaries, detected by the ultrasound scanning; an excess activity of male hormones called androgens.
PCOS is seen more frequently among the adolescent girls and sometimes seen in early 20’s. PCOS causes rapid changes in the body that can be very distressing to these young girls who maybe just about getting used to the changes in their body shape and structure. The symptoms such as sudden sprouting of hair on their face that makes them look like young boys is particularly distressing. On top of these there are other equally distressing symptoms such as -
1. irregular menstrual cycles in the form of oligomenorrhea. This is seen as menstrual cycles that occur once in 3-6 months characterised with scanty blood loss.
2. Excessive weight gain
A recently married woman with PCOS may find it difficult to conceive and get pregnant. This is when they seek help and see their gynecologist and get the diagnosis of PCOS after an ultrasound is done.
According to several studies and literature, the causes of PCOS are often linked to lifestyle factors. These include sedentary habits like lack of physical activity, and consumption of junk foods and fast foods.
But on the basis of structure and functions of the ovaries, it is to be noted that the ovaries are made up of several small cysts in the form of follicles. Within these follicles are immature and underdeveloped eggs. In a normal menstrual cycle, the first event is the rise of female hormones, followed by the release of eggs from the ovaries and then several other changes take place in the uterus to result in the menstruation. So, for both menstruation to occur and also for the formation of the foetus, the preliminary and important step is the release of the eggs from the ovaries. In a disorder like PCOS, this step does not occur and therefore irregular menstrual cycles are present and more so, infertility.
Moreover, because of an increase in the male hormones, there is presence of hair growth on the face, etc. also called as hirsutism.
A cumulative effect of lifestyle factors and hormonal imbalances result in excessive weight gain and this is a cyclical process resulting in further damage.
The diagnosis of PCOS is made on the individuals based on the history of irregular menstrual cycles along with hormonal imbalances in the blood, complemented with the presence of multiple cysts in both the ovaries as evidenced by ultrasound scanning.
For the treatment of PCOS, the preliminary step is lifestyle changes. This involves change in the diet in the form of avoiding junk food, like deep fried snacks, oily foods and chocolates. The next step is rigorous physical activity for a minimum of 30 minutes for 5 days a week. Apart from this, it has been found that insulin insensitivity also plays a major role in PCOS and therefore certain anti-diabetic drugs are prescribed for treatment. Nevertheless, diet and lifestyle remain the mainstay in treatment of PCOS.
If a young girl suddely starts seeing hair on her face she should seek help - the condtion can be controlled with the right treatment. So avoid the embarresement of hirsutism.