September 2016 is PCOS Awareness month observed to spread information about the disorder and to support people who suffer from it. Affecting one in every ten to twenty women worldwide, polycystic ovarian syndrome is often disregarded or under-diagnosed.
What is it?
It is a condition where an imbalance of the sex hormones, estrogen and progesterone, leads to the development of small benign cysts in the ovaries. These cysts and the causal hormonal imbalance lead to infertility, menstrual disorders, cardiac issues and changes in physical appearance, along with other mental and physical health problems.
The cause for PCOS has not yet been discovered, however, genetics, hormonal malfunction, insulin resistance, bad lifestyle choices and weight issues are major factors for the condition.
Infertility is a common complication as ovulation may not occur properly. PCOS patients have a higher risk for diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure and cholesterol, anxiety and endometrial cancer than women without the condition. Due to the lack of regular periods, the uterine lining gets thicker over time, increasing the risk of endometrial cancer three-fold.
What you can do
Be in tune with your body patterns and note even the smallest changes, whether it be recurrent irregularity in your menstruation or sudden and unexplained weight gain.
1. Irregular periods (more than 40 days apart) or less than 8 periods a year [before menopause]
2. Sudden change in menstrual flow or scanty periods
3. Abnormal facial hair growth (male-pattern)
4. Sudden weight gain and difficulty to lose weight
5. Acne, oily skin
6. Dark patches on the skin, mainly behind the neck (due to insulin resistance)
7. Male pattern hair loss or bald patches
8. Pelvic pain
If you notice any of the above symptoms in addition to irregular periods or any recurrent irregularity (more than 40 days apart) in your cycles, consult your doctor for a check-up.