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PCOS Explained: How Does This Hormonal Condition Affect Overall Health?

Apart from abnormalities of the reproductive system, PCOS is associated with abnormalities of the metabolic system, in particular insulin resistance and obesity.

Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) affects millions of women around the world. It is a complex hormonal condition that affects the reproductive system, causing irregular menstrual periods, elevated levels of androgens (male hormones), and various other symptoms. While the condition primarily affects the reproductive system, its implications extend beyond gynecology and affect metabolic health and general well-being.

PCOS is estimated to occur in approximately 5 to 10 percent of women, making it one of the most common hormonal disorders among women of reproductive age. The basic cause of PCOS revolves around insulin resistance, which causes abnormal levels of female hormones and elevated androgen levels that interfere with normal ovarian function. Understanding the root cause is important as many women turn to cosmetic treatments without addressing the hormonal abnormalities that are responsible for all of these symptoms.

Understanding the SOP

In a normal menstrual cycle, the brain, ovaries, and uterus follow a precise sequence of events each month leading up to menstrual cycles. However, in women with PCOS, multiple small follicles accumulate in the ovaries, preventing ovulation and causing imbalances in levels of estrogen, progesterone, LH, and FSH (follicle-stimulating hormone). This disruption leads to the characteristic symptoms of PCOS, such as irregular menstrual periods, increased body hair growth, acne, obesity, and difficulty in pregnancy.

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Treatment for PCOS

The diagnosis of PCOS involves a comprehensive assessment of symptoms, blood tests, and a physical examination. Experts have established that a woman must meet two of three criteria:

  • irregular menstrual periods caused by anovulation or irregular ovulation,
  • evidence of elevated androgen levels and polycystic ovaries seen by pelvic ultrasound.

But before labeling a patient as PCOS, a thorough evaluation is crucial to rule out other potential endocrine disorders that mimic PCOS, since the treatment of other endocrine disorders is completely different compared to PCOS.

How does PCOS affect general health?

Apart from abnormalities of the reproductive system, PCOS is associated with abnormalities of the metabolic system, in particular insulin resistance and obesity. Insulin, a hormone produced by the pancreas to regulate blood glucose levels, can be elevated in women with PCOS. Although PCOS primarily affects the reproductive system and metabolic health, it also affects various aspects of a woman’s life. Some of these include:

  1. This elevation, along with insulin resistance, can lead to prediabetes and a increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
  2. In addition, women with PCOS who are obese may face a greater heart disease risk, thus emphasizing the importance of maintaining ideal weight and addressing insulin resistance.
  3. Women with PCOS experience low self-esteem, which may contribute to an increased risk of mood disorders and psychiatric illnesses in these individuals.
  4. Sleep apnea, a condition characterized by the interruption of breathing during sleep also prevails.
  5. Women with PCOS and can drive to fatiguedaytime sleepiness and other metabolic complications.

If you suspect that you may be suffering from PCOS or have already been diagnosed with it, remember that you are not alone on this path. PCOS can be challenging, but with the right support and management strategies, you can manage your reproductive health, obesity, and hair growth.

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If you have symptoms of PCOS or are concerned about your reproductive health or obesity, contact a health professional who specializes in this topic, as long-standing hormonal abnormalities can lead to serious health problems in the future.

Published Date: May 20, 2023 9:45 AM IST




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