— Dr Shhetal Aggarwal, Senior Consultant, Obstetrics & Gynaecologist
PCOS is one of the most important metabolic reproductive disorder which is reaching epidemic proportions as a lifestyle disease.
It is characterised by delayed or infrequent periods along with increased male hormones (androgens). There are also tiny fluid filled cysts with increased bulk of the ovaries.
The reasons for the same are unclear but it is believed that
- Heredity– Genetics plays a role. Some genes may be linked to PCOS. Simply put, this means it may run in families.
- An insulin resistance which in lay men terms means that the hormone insulin which helps to regulate blood sugar levels in the body is not effective in doing the same. There are increased levels of this ineffective insulin but there are chances of Type 2 Diabetes for the same reason. This insulin resistance also leads to increased pigmentation on the neck, armpits etc called acanthosis nigricans.
- Increased male hormones leading to acne, excessive hair growth at unusual places like the upper lip, chin etc and at the same time male type of baldness.
- Low grade inflammation in the ovaries may lead to increased androgens which in turn may lead to heart disease and blood vessel problems later on in life .
Complications due to PCOS include
- Miscarriage and preterm labour
- Type 2 Diabetes
- Heart disease
- Sleep apnea
- Abnormal uterine bleeding
- Endometrial cancer
- Obesity or even lean PCOS is known
- Metabolic syndrome — a cluster of conditions including high blood pressure, high blood sugar, and abnormal cholesterol or triglyceride levels that significantly increase the risk of cardiovascular disease
How you can save yourself from PCOS
Lifestyle modifications like exercise 5-6 times a week, diet and weight loss are the first line preventive methods as well as treatment of PCOS. Remaining fit and losing weight correct the hormonal milieu. Eat healthy. Though lean PCOS is also known obesity worsens the condition.
Diet for PCOS
Healthy food including lots of green vegetables, seasonal fruits, nuts and foods with a low glycemic index, in small portions are recommended. Go easy on carbohydrates, junk food, sugar and processed food. Some nutritionists also recommend a gluten free diet.
Foods which reduce inflammation like turmeric, spices and tomatoes are recommended. Proteins like lean proteins, fish , chicken are also a good idea.
The key to this is small potion size at frequent intervals. PCOS can be defeated- healthy lifestyle options are our ammunition.