Have you been experiencing irregular periods lately? While many health conditions can lead to the problem, one condition that most commonly causes it is polycystic ovarian syndrome or PCOS. If you are a person with ovaries, you must have heard of this condition which affects one in every five women in the world. While you may know the term but you may not understand its consequences unless you know exactly what to look for. Yes, we are talking about physical symptoms of PCOS that you should know.
Health Shots got in touch with Dr Aradhana Singh, Additional Director of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at Fortis Hospital, Noida, Uttar Pradesh. Here’s what she has to say.
If you have been having problems dealing with your menstrual cycle, you may have PCOS. Dr Singh defines it as a disorder of female hormones, but the exact cause of the condition is not known.
“Small ovarian follicles are seen at the periphery of ovaries in PCOS, and they become bulky in size. Abnormal hormones in the body lead to delayed or missed ovulation, and that leads to irregular menstrual cycles and scanty, reduced or excessive, and prolonged bleeding during menstruation,” she elucidates.
The expert points out that a few factors such as faulty dietary habits, a sedentary lifestyle, and a lack of exercise, can make a woman prone to PCOS.
PCOS may lead to several symptoms, but the best way for you to know is by noticing the physical symptoms of PCOS. There are various symptoms that appear in the female body due to these hormonal disturbances. Dr Singh shares that the diagnosis of PCOS is made if any of the following two symptoms are present:
The first physical sign of the condition you should look out for is changes in your periods. One of the most common symptoms of PCOS is irregular periods. Women with PCOS may experience periods delay of more than 35 days. The flow may be scanty, prolonged, and sometimes heavy. One may even get fewer than 9 periods in a year, shares the expert.
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High levels of androgen hormone may lead to excessive hair growth on the face, chin, and the whole body, says Dr Singh. This condition is also known as hirsutism. So, the next time you notice stiff and dark hair on your face, chest, lower abdomen, inner thighs, or back, talk to your gynaecologist.
While you may experience abnormal hair growth in certain parts of your body, on the flip side some women experience massive hair fall. The presence of male hormones (androgen) in the system can trigger scalp hair fall and male pattern baldness. So, talk to your doctor immediately if you notice that your hair is falling more than usual.
High levels of androgen can also cause acne formation, which is medically referred to as hyperandrogenism. Excess androgen can lead to the excess production of sebum and dead skin cells, leading to pimples.
While some girls may experience these symptoms of PCOS from the onset of the first menstrual period, others may start experiencing the symptoms much later during the reproductive period. Symptoms of PCOS may vary according to the severity of the disease or hormonal disturbances. You may experience mild symptoms like slightly irregular periods or severe symptoms like extremely disturbed or delayed periods, explains the gynaecologist.
The best way to manage the condition is to follow a healthy lifestyle. The key is to eat healthy foods that are low in carbs and high in protein and fibre. You should avoid junk food, exercise daily, and maintain a healthy body weight. Changing your lifestyle might help you reverse the symptoms of PCOS, suggests Dr Singh.