By Dra. Margaret Anne Z. Ponciano MD, FPOGS, FSUOG, OB Gyn Sonologist
I am sure this term is familiar, as it is commonly discussed by friends, a relative or probably heard from social media posts. A friend may be having difficulty conceiving and was diagnosed to have PCOS. Your sister may be experiencing irregular menses and has gained some weight during the pandemic, making her wonder if she may have PCOS. Women from different walks of life, of varying ages, may have PCOS.
But, what is PCOS?
PCOS or Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome is defined as a disorder characterized by hyperandrogenism, ovulatory dysfunction and ultrasound finding of polycystic ovaries (Rotterdam criteria). The prevalence of PCOS is 6-9% worldwide.
How do you know you if you have PCOS?
Signs and symptoms may include excessive body hair growth (hirsutism), weight changes or having trouble losing weight, polycystic ovaries in ultrasound and low sex drive. Some women could have irregular periods, male pattern baldness (alopecia) or thinning hair and hormonal changes, such as insulin resistance. Others could experience fatigue, acne, mood changes/depression and infertility issues.
What are the illnesses that could be associated with PCOS?
More than the condition of PCOS, these affected women may be at higher risk to acquire health problems in the future, such as diabetes, metabolic syndrome, hypertension, dyslipidemia, etc.
How do you treat PCOS?
More than medical management, lifestyle modification has been advocated as the first line of treatment for PCOS. Exercise and diet are crucial to cure this condition. Studies have shown that a body weight decrease of as little as 5% regulates menses, improves fertility, addresses hormonal imbalance and decreases degree of hirsutism and acne. Of course, it does not hurt a woman’s psychological well-being if she loses weight. Recommended food includes high-fiber vegetables (eg. broccoli), lean protein (fish) and anti-inflammatory foods and spices (turmeric and tomatoes). High-fiber foods can combat insulin resistance and reducing impact of sugar on the blood, benefitting women with PCOS. Medical management for PCOS are as follows: most popularly known are the oral contraceptive pills, metformin, inositol, clomifene citrate.
PCOS could be a life-long condition with associated health problems such as obesity, diabetes mellitus and infertility. However, polycystic ovarian syndrome is manageable. It can be prevented with a healthy lifestyle and treated with medications like oral contraceptive pills.
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