Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, or PCOS as it is more commonly known, is a condition affecting as many as one out of every five women in India, in which cysts develop on the ovaries which lead to hormone imbalances.
This disruption in a regular hormone balance caused by the PCOS is commonly associated with fertility issues, as well as an increased risk of physical illnesses including Heart Disease, High Cholesterol and Diabetes.
A medical diagnosis of PCOS requires the woman to display at least two of the three main associated features:
The existence of liquid-filled follicles growing around the eggs with swollen ovaries.
Abnormally large presence of male hormones.
The cause of PCOS has yet to be identified, however it is linked to those with hormone imbalances and excessive insulin production. There also seems to be a genetic factor involved, which could explain why the condition commonly occurs amongst related females.
Signs and Symptoms
The severity of symptoms can vary amongst those with PCOS but commonly includes weight gain, infertility, unpredictable menstruation, acne, greasy skin, and increased body or facial hair. Some people may experience only one of these symptoms, while others may experience almost all of them.
There is the possibility of undergoing a small operation known as a laparoscopic ovarian drilling (LOD) as a treatment method of the related fertility difficulties. This procedure reduces the over-production of male hormones, encourages normal ovary activity and also reduces hormonal imbalances.
Other medication is aimed at reducing the symptoms, such as statins to reduce cholesterol levels, tablets to assist with excessive hair growth or weight loss and creams to improve acne. With no cure, the treatment is focused on symptom management.
Can you get pregnant if you have PCOS?
The simple answer is yes. There is no need to worry. Many women who have PCOS go on to have children with the help of treatment, through a short course of medication, or IVF.
It must be noted though, that if you have IVF, you need to watch out for the symptoms of OHSS, or hyper ovarian stimulation syndrome. Women with PCOS are prone to becoming over stimulated by the IVF drugs, meaning they run the risk of producing too many eggs which can lead to major swelling and discomfort. In severe cases of OHSS, (don’t worry, this only happens in 1% of cases) the patient may be admitted to hospital for treatment to help relieve the symptoms. If your doctor feels you are at risk of OHSS, he will amend your drug intake and possibly delay further treatment until your body is ready.
Following a healthy lifestyle is associated with a reduction in PCOS symptoms. Eating a nutritional and balanced diet, as well as participating in regular physical exercise will achieve weight loss which significantly relieves symptom-related suffering.