Are your periods irregular or don’t come every month? Are you trying to conceive but not getting pregnant? And do you have acne which defies treatment, unwanted facial hair, or have you noticed too much hair fall of late? Are you finding it difficult to lose weight?
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, the reason could be a condition known as polycystic ovarian syndrome, or simply, PCOS.
It’s important to treat PCOS at the right time as it can make it difficult to have a baby when you want to. It can also cause heavy bleeding, anaemia, severe acne, weight gain, excessive body and facial hair growth as well as excessive hair loss. Sometimes, it can also cause darker patches on the skin, especially on the neck or around the pelvic area, cause sleep apnoea,. Not treating PCOS at the right time can put you at greater risk of developing diabetes, heart disease and even some cancers.
Why do I have PCOS?
There’s a hormone or chemical called insulin in your body that regulates your blood sugar levels and other hormones and keeps your body healthy. When your body stops reacting to it, you develop what is called insulin resistance.
Now coming to how this insulin resistance causes PCOS –
We all have female and male hormones in us, irrespective of our gender. The balance between them is important to keep us healthy. In PCOS, due to insulin resistance, there is an imbalance in these (slightly more male hormone), leading to symptoms like delayed or absent periods, excessive pimples and hair growth on face and chin, hair loss on the scalp, etc.
This triad of delayed periods, signs of increased male hormone with or without USG clinch the diagnosis of PCOS.
How is PCOS treated?
Once you’ve been diagnosed, you’ll be prescribed combination hormone pills which help in getting your female and male hormones to normal levels. Don’t worry – the newer combination pills are very safe and do not cause side effects, especially if you’re less than 40 years of age, are not very obese, have normal blood pressure and are a non-smoker. They will not prevent you from getting pregnant in the future.
If you only have irregular periods, we’ll try to treat you with lifestyle modifications like diet changes and exercise to achieve a 10% weight loss. For eg: If you weigh 70 kg, it is advisable for you to lose at least 7 kg to get regular periods again. Stick to the diet changes suggested by us and exercise regularly and you’ll be on your way to health soon!
If you have other problems like excessive hair loss or pimples, hair growth on face and chin, we might have to treat you with other medicines and refer you to a skin specialist as well.
What are my chances of having problems when I try to get pregnant?
Up to 70% of PCOS girls may have difficulty getting pregnant. However, with modern science as well as intensive lifestyle modification most PCOS girls will get pregnant easily.
What are the side effects of combination pills?
The commonest side effects of hormonal pills are slight nausea and vomiting. These usually wears off after taking the medication for a few days. Very few women need to discontinue the medicines because of this side effect. The other common side effect is a slight increase in triglycerides, a type of cholesterol. It can be managed with exercise.
Sometimes, the pills may worsen migraine in patients who already suffer from them. If you have a history of blood clots In your leg in the past or someone in your family has the same history, please tell your doctor.