Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) is a condition caused by hormonal imbalances in women that primarily affect the ovaries. It can have a cascading effect on different health functions and impact cardiovascular well-being and also lead to obesity. PCOS is very common in women of childbearing age and is found approximately in one out of five women in India. In some cases, it can also lead to serious health problems.
In order to understand the effects of PCOS symptoms, we reached out to Dr Kshitiz Murdia, CEO & Co-Founder of Indira IVF, and asked him to share his inputs. Read on to know the ways PCOS affects a woman’s body.
It is by far the most common symptom experienced by women with PCOS. The reason for this can be traced to hormonal imbalances, including increased testosterone (a male hormone), luteinising hormone (for ovulation), estrogen, and lower levels of follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH). In such scenarios, periods do not occur at regular intervals.
Another prominent effect of PCOS is weight gain which can be difficult to combat. When the body stores excessive fat, one is more likely to develop serious chronic diseases such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and even endometrial cancer. While weight gain does not cause PCOS, it can be a result of PCOS due to insulin resistance. Losing excess body fat can keep many PCOS-related complications at bay.
Excessive Hair Growth And Loss
Hirsutism refers to excessive hair growth on the face. Facial hair growth is a medical condition caused by androgens, which are male hormones. Levels of androgens such as testosterone are more in women with PCOS, causing hirsutism. While excessive hair growth is a problem in other parts of the body, women with PCOS tend to have thin hair on top of their heads. They may develop baldness similar to male pattern baldness.
PCOS-related hormonal changes can result in hormonal, cystic, and comedogenic acne, oily skin, blackheads, dry lips, redness, and more. Medication for PCOS can also result in some of these symptoms.
PCOS has a negative impact on fertility because women with PCOS do not ovulate on a specific date and the release of an egg may be delayed each month due to the ovaries’ high estrogen production. PCOS is one of the leading causes of female infertility, but not all women with PCOS are infertile; some conceive naturally without the need for fertility treatment.
Skin problems are common in women with PCOS. High levels of male hormones in women can cause severe acne, darkened skin, and skin tags on the face, chest, and back.
Insulin resistance, which develops in women with PCOS, is a significant risk factor for type 2 diabetes. Diabetes requires a lifelong commitment to monitoring blood sugar levels, limiting the types and amounts of carbohydrates consumed, staying physically active, and taking medication. Diabetes also increases your chances of getting systemic nerve damage, vision changes, kidney problems, and cardiovascular disease.
Women with PCOS are more likely to develop high blood pressure, stiff and clogged arteries, high levels of heart-damaging LDL cholesterol, and low levels of protective HDL cholesterol as a result of poorly managed diabetes.
Sleep Apnea And Fatigue
Women with PCOS are more likely to experience night sweat, insomnia, and sleep apnea, a condition in which the person stops breathing for brief periods of time while sleeping. Diabetes and heart disease can both cause dangerous daytime fatigue, memory loss, and weight gain due to sleep apnea.
Women with PCOS are more likely to experience anxiety, distress, depression, low energy, and eating disorders. This can be due to hormone imbalances and issues related to infertility, unwanted weight gain, and excessive hair growth.
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