Globally, women experience various health challenges that create an adverse social environment for them. One such emerging health challenge is Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) that is becoming a real threat to women’s health nowadays.
If you know you have polycystic ovary syndrome, you’re one of the lucky ones because PCOS affects 5 to 10 percent of women worldwide, and less than half of them get a diagnosis. That means there are millions of women struggling, with no idea what it is. So, let’s explore it.
Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)
Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a common hormonal disorder in women of reproductive age. It has several symptoms caused by high levels of androgens or ‘male’ hormones. The most common symptoms are:
- Irregular periods/Heavy bleeding
- Hair growth on the face, back, belly, and chest
- Acne on face, chest, and upper back
- Weight gain
- Male-pattern baldness
- Darkening of the skin in the neck, groin, and under the breasts
Moreover, if you have PCOS and your androgen levels are too high, you have higher odds of getting different complications.
Risks and Complications regarding PCOS
PCOS affects a woman’s ovaries leading to irregular, skipped periods or heavy bleeding. Cysts in the ovaries can interfere with ovulation. If a healthy egg isn’t available to be fertilized by a sperm, you can’t get pregnant.
According to a report, 6–20% of women of reproductive age have PCOS. Miscarriages, the early loss of a pregnancy, Preeclampsia (a sudden increase in blood pressure after the 20th week of pregnancy), preterm birth (delivered before 37 weeks of pregnancy), and increasing rate of C-section delivery are common if you have PCOS.
When insulin does not work effectively, the body produces more insulin. These high levels can increase the production of androgens such as testosterone, in the ovaries,
Other complications include abnormal cholesterol, endometrial cancer, and sleep apnea.
How it can be treated?
PCOS cannot be treated but managed. It involves lifestyle changes, including making healthy food choices, regular physical activity, and aiming for a healthy weight.
Apart from this, doctors may prescribe medications to help manage PCOS–to reduce insulin resistance, to help with improving menstrual cycles and fertility, as well as to prevent weight gain. But to reduce side effects, they should be used along with recommended lifestyle changes.
Why is it important to talk about PCOS?
In Pakistan, every other girl/woman is suffering from PCOS yet not discussed openly. Like menstruation, young girls, even women feel shy to talk about their internal health issues and secondly, there are many misconceptions regarding PCOS:
If you have a cyst, you must have PCOS:
The name suggests you might have multiple cysts on your ovaries, but that’s not always true. Not all women who have PCOS have multiple cysts, and not all women who have multiple cysts have PCOS.
You must have all the symptoms:
Like all syndromes, PCOS is a collection of problems found together. Not all women with PCOS have the same symptoms. Each of them falls roughly into four categories, periods and fertility, hair and skin, mental and emotional health, and sleep. For a proper diagnosis, a woman must have 2 of 3 possible issues.
You cannot get pregnant:
The major misconception is that you won’t be able to get pregnant. It is not true because sixty percent of women living with PCOS get pregnant naturally. An Australian study found women with PCOS ended up with the same number of children without PCOS.
You are Important, Care for Yourself:
There are a lot of struggles that come with PCOS. It’s a lifelong condition that requires your attention, but it is manageable. It can be a distressing condition. Not just because it can affect fertility, but physical effects can cause anxiety and depression. There’s so much pressure on young women to achieve what we are told is the physical ideal. It takes an age and time to embrace yourself and getting support from others.
So, there is no big deal if you are having irregular periods, grown facial hair, or trouble conceiving. All you have to do is to make the conscious decision to engage in extreme self-care and book an appointment with your doctor for intensive care. PCOS is no longer a threat if you decide that you are worth caring for and take steps to make that happen because in the end, All that matters is You!
Disclaimer: This information is intended as a guide only. It should not replace individual medical advice, and if you have any concerns about your health or further questions, you should contact your health professional.