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How does PCOS affect your quality of life?

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Our lifestyles play an important role in determining our overall health. Today, unhealthy eating habits, poor nutritional choices, lack of physical activity and all-in-all a sedentary way of life have paved the way for numerous health concerns like PCOS.

PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome) is a growing concern affecting 1 in 5 Indian women. On the occasion of International Women’s Day, leading gynecologists’ at the CK Birla Hospital give their key insights on the impacts of PCOS on a person’s quality of life. 

Dr Archana Pathak says, “PCOS is a lifestyle-related disorder. It is a hormonal condition that mostly affects women in the reproductive age group. To put it briefly, this condition is caused by a hormonal imbalance in women causing psychological and physical manifestations.”

PCOS is characterised by three prominent features – irregular periods, excess levels of androgen (male hormones) and the presence of polycystic ovaries.  

“We are seeing multiple patients with PCOS every day in our OPD. Women, especially young adults come to us with complaints of unwanted facial hair, missed or no periods, obesity, acne and an inability to get pregnant. But despite its high incidence, only a few women are aware of this condition and its effects on health.”, adds Dr Nivedita Kaul. 

The exact cause of PCOS is not yet known. Researchers know that various factors contribute to the development of this disorder. Common factors include excess levels of insulin in the body and high levels of androgen. PCOS can also be inherited. 

“While we do not know why PCOS is exactly caused, we do know that it can lead to a range of complications, if not treated timely. Women tend to ignore these symptoms that affect their everyday health. Even the minutest symptoms like persistent acne should be taken care of. I advise all young women to take note of these signs and changes in their body and consult a gynaecologist routinely.”, says Dr Seema Sehgal

PCOS, if not treated, can negatively impact the quality of your life. Besides the troubling symptoms, it can also lead to other health conditions. Untreated PCOS can cause: 

  • Accumulation of fat in the liver
  • High blood pressure
  • High sugar levels in the blood
  • Abnormal levels of cholesterol 
  • Type 2 diabetes 
  • Uterine bleeding 

Commenting on the complications of PCOS, Dr Gurleen Sikka says, “If not detected and managed in a timely manner, PCOS can cause health concerns in your pregnancy and impact your married life. This disorder can translate into pregnancy complications such as gestational diabetes and even loss of pregnancy.”

Dr Poonam Sidana adds, “PCOS can even cause complications in getting pregnant. A large number of women experience infertility issues due to PCOS. Women should, hence, consult gynaecologists routinely to know their risk and avoid these problems in their pregnancy.”

Since it is a lifestyle disorder, this condition can be effectively managed with lifestyle changes only. Dr Archana Pathak suggests the following measures to control the PCOS problem:

Maintain a Healthy Weight 

Most of the patients who suffer from PCOS also experience obesity. There is an established correlation between these two. In order to manage PCOS, you should aim to achieve and maintain healthy body weight. 

Eat a Healthy Diet 

Avoiding carbohydrates can help reduce insulin levels in your body. Instead, you should eat healthy carbohydrates that raise your blood sugar levels in a slow and healthy manner. 

Be Physically Active 

Reduce your blood sugar levels by engaging in physical activity each day. Aim to exercise 30-40 minutes everyday.

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