Is PCOS hereditary? We’ll let a gynaecologist answer that for you

Can PCOS be in your genes? Well, we’ve got a gynaecologist to answer this very pertinent question on PCOS causes for you.
Tame your hormonal imbalance during PCOS with pumpkin seeds. Image courtesy: Shutterstock
Dr Deepika Aggarwal Published: 3 Oct 2020, 10:30 am IST
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PCOS (polycystic ovary syndrome) is a common endocrine condition usually seen in women during the reproductive age. In India, one out of five women are diagnosed with PCOS which is caused due to the development of numerous small follicles (cysts) in the ovaries. 

PCOS can be associated with metabolic abnormalities which can lead to health problems such as infertility, risk of endometrial cancer, cardiovascular risk factors, and type 2 diabetes. 

PCOS can be identified through some common warning signs such as  irregular periods, acne, and hair growth on the body (particularly facial hair due to higher levels of male hormones), obesity, scalp hair loss and thinning of hair, high cholesterol, type 2 diabetes, and depression. 

Also, read: Is it PCOS or something else? A gynae talks about other ailments with similar symptoms

PCOS and genetics
It is believed that PCOS results from genetic flaws in combination with environmental aspects. Recent research suggests that a gene involved in male hormone (testosterone) production plays a significant role in the development of PCOS. 

The increase of testosterone in a woman is reflected through symptoms like facial hair, scalp hair loss and excess body hair. Genetic defects may lead to abnormal functioning of the hormones, which in turn results in ovaries becoming enlarged and getting filled with fluid sacs or follicles that surround the eggs. The increased production of male hormones and excessive production of insulin prevent the ovaries from functioning normally. 

Ignoring PCOS can take you for a ride so it’s better you know everything about it. Image courtesy: Shutterstock.

Therefore, in that sense PCOS can be considered to be a genetic disorder and family history of the disease becomes a risk factor. 

Managing PCOS
PCOS is not completely curable, but it can be treated and managed. One’s lifestyle significantly contributes to the development of this disease. The best way to manage PCOS is through making conscious lifestyle changes. PCOS is not a life-threatening disease but needs to be managed or treated to avoid long-term complications. Making the following simple changes in one’s lifestyle can contribute to preventing/ managing this condition:

  • Eating a healthy and nutritious diet with a minimal intake of processed and junk food 
  • Choosing what you eat and controlling portion size
  • Indulging in regular physical exercise as it helps in lowering blood sugar levels
  • Increasing your daily activity to treat or prevent insulin resistance and help keep your weight under control
  • Seven to eight hours of good quality uninterrupted sleep daily
  • Reducing stress and giving yourself time to indulge in something that you enjoy doing is required to heal PCOS 

Treatment of PCOS focuses on lifestyle alterations and medication. While surgery can help shrink the ovarian cysts, it is less likely to be performed given the success of hormonal treatments in the present days. Long-term non-medical treatment is geared towards altering risk factors and health problems often related with PCOS like diabetes, excess weight gain and heart disease.

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About the Author

Dr Deepika Aggarwal is a consultant, Obstetrics and Gynaecology, at CK Birla Hospital in Gurgaon. ...Read More

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