The internet is overloaded with PCOS content right now. We are just trying to simplify and narrow it down to the bare minimum you need to understand when it comes to PCOS. We are focusing on the root causes, and striking a balance within our body not a symptoms-first approach!
Breaking down PCOS.
Dr. Renuka Dangare is a practicing physician with work experience in India and United States. She has largely worked in obstetrics and gynaecology. Outside of work, Renuka loves baking and is a mom to a baby and two cats.
This article has been written by Debayani Bose with clinical inputs from Dr. Renuka Dangare.
Why does PCOS happen?
PCOS doesn’t happen due to a single cause. It’s a multifactorial condition. Different factors in your environment and in your body together act and contribute to developing PCOS.
- Genetics – There is a big genetic factor involved. Altogether, 20 to 40 percent of females have first degree relatives with PCOS.
- Insulin Resistance – In insulin resistance, your body is not responsive to insulin. The main role of insulin is to pick up the blood glucose in your bloodstream and to put it inside the various cells of your body. When your body is not responsive to this insulin it keeps thinking that it still has enough glucose and it needs to be cleared. As a result,more insulin is released.
- Increased Androgens -Because of raised insulin, there is an increased androgen production in the body and those raised androgens are responsible for cosmetic concerns such as acne, excess hair growth over the face or chin, called hirsutism. Androgens in excess can also aggravate mood changes, depression, and male pattern hair loss. This excess androgen also prevents ovulation. Once you don’t have ovulation you have irregular periods and difficulty when trying for a child.
Long-term risks for PCOS
A long list of long term risks accompanies PCOS. While they may seem intimidating to a new reader, you need to understand that your lifestyle and choices play a key role in determining your risk for all the conditions listed below, as does your family history.
- Diabetes -One of the comorbidities is diabetes. More than half of the women with PCOS will have diabetes or pre-diabetes which is glucose intolerance before the age of 40 years.
- Gestational Diabetes -. If you’re a PCOS patient that gets pregnant your risk for having poor glucose control during pregnancy is very high.
- High blood pressure. High blood pressure by itself doesn’t cause PCOS. PCOS by itself doesn’t cause high blood pressure. It’s just a risk factor. PCOS increases your risk of having high blood pressure especially if you have a strong family history or if your BMI is on the higher side.
- Lipid Imbalances :Women with PCOS will have higher levels of bad cholesterol and lower levels of good cholesterol. When the bad cholesterol is high or your total cholesterol is high the risk for heart disease and stroke goes up.
- Sleep Apnea :Women who have a lot of neck fat, or are obese may also have the risk of developing sleep apnea. While sleeping if they have momentary or repeated stops in breathing is known as sleep apnea. Sleep apnea by itself also raises your risk for diabetes or heart disease.
- Mental Health Concerns : Women struggle with exaggerated symptoms of PMS, PMDD, depression and anxiety due to the stress and imbalance of hormones that comes with PCOS.
- Endometrial cancer: If your body has been out of hormonal balance for a very long time and if your estrogen has been very high the inner lining of your uterus or endometrium keeps on getting thicker and thicker and there can be some premalignant changes causing problems relating to obesity, ovulation, insulin resistance and diabetes. They increase your chances of developing cancer of the endometrium.
PCOS and Skincare
When we talk about skincare,
- One needs to find makeup products that suit their skin.
- You need to make sure that you’re using a good sunscreen and a good moisturizer. You can prefer gel-based moisturizer and sunscreens if you have very oily skin.
- Also, have a cleansing routine. If needed, cleanse your skin two times and always clean it in the morning.
Lifestyle Changes in PCOS – Things to remember.
Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) makes it difficult for the body to use the hormone insulin produced by the body and it can cause insulin and glucose to build up in your bloodstream. High insulin levels will increase androgen production and that is going to cause acne and irregular periods, and it can also cause weight gain. Since this weight gain is triggered by the male hormone, it typically happens around the abdomen. Women with PCOS generally have an apple-shaped body as opposed to a pear-shaped body.
- For most women, diet can go a long way in solving PCOS. Increase the fibre in your diet.
- Reducing refined carbohydrate intake really helps. Try picking foods with low to medium GI’s. The Glycaemic index means the capacity of the food to raise your blood sugar. You want to eat a type of food that keeps your blood sugar levels sustained over a period of time instead of erratically fluctuating it.
- Aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise.
- Good sleep and stress management techniques can also go a long way in managing weight gain during PCOS.
Above all, don’t hesitate to reach out for help !
PCOS is certainly a hard pill to swallow. The irregular hormones and the anxiety of skin changes, weight gain and hormonal imbalances can all be difficult to deal with but there are plenty of providers from various specialties that go a long way in helping you in this journey. Seek a therapist if the anxiety or depression is too hard to handle right now, a nutritionist if you feel lost about your diet or a gynaecologist who does not dismiss your concerns.
To know more on the sexual and reproductive health of women, visit https://www.proactiveforher.com/
Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as a substitute for medical advice or treatment.
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