PCOS Awareness Month 2020: Chances of PCOS increase by 50% if it runs in the Family, says Dr. Murdia

Published: 23 September, 2020 16:14 IST | Maitrai Agarwal | Mumbai

Infertility Specialist discusses polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), symptoms, and treatment options

Photo used for representational purposes only.
Photo used for representational purposes only.

Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is among the most common endocrine disorders found in women.  According to research conducted by the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, one in four women suffers from PCOS. The exact cause behind this complex disorder is not clear, however, the impact on female bodies and fertility is well documented.  Menstrual abnormalities, weight gain, infertility, excess hair growth, and acne are characteristic of PCOS. These symptoms can be managed through medication and lifestyle choices such as diet and exercise.

The pandemic has affected our routines and deeply impacted health and well-being of individuals.  We spoke to Infertility Specialist and CEO of Indira IVF, Dr. Kshitiz Murdia, about the impact of the pandemic on women’s health, “The current pandemic has been impacting our physical, emotional and physiological wellbeing. Locked in our homes, routine activities like sleeping, eating habits, and physical activity have taken a hit impacting our body in ways that could be detrimental. Increased stress levels among women may trigger pre-existing or cause new conditions which could lead to fertility issues in the future. Experts have also expressed concern regarding increasing cases of PCOS during Covid-19 and also worsening of pre-existing PCOS cases.”

Below, Dr. Murdia answers a few basic questions about PCOS, its symptoms, and treatment options:

What is Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome?

PCOS is a hormonal disorder and common among women that are of the childbearing age. This condition disrupts the hormonal balance by increasing the production level of male hormones (androgen) causing infrequent or prolonged periods. This causes PCOS follicles with immature eggs to form cysts which begin to grow inside the ovaries and not mature. Failure to produce mature eggs can impact ovulation giving birth to problems like infertility.

What do you think are the major causes or contributing factors when it comes to PCOS?

Although there is no one particular cause for PCOS, experts over the years have narrowed it down to the following causes:

1. Family history: The chances of a PCOS increases by 50% if a family member is also diagnosed with it.

2. Insulin Resistance: 80% of women suffering from PCOS have insulin resistance in common. The body produces extra insulin to break down the sugar, resulting into increase in testosterone levels further interrupting the growth of follicles.

3. Lifestyle factors: PCOS is often attributed to the lifestyle of the person as well. Obesity and body mass index out of the optimum range can lead to insulin resistance and hormonal imbalance.

What are the symptoms of PCOS one should look out for?

Keeping these factors in mind, one should take necessary measures to ensure that PCOS remains at bay. However, if one experiences certain symptoms as follows, it is best to consult a doctor to diagnose and opt for a treatment plan for PCOS.

  • Menstrual problems such as irregular menstrual cycles, abnormal bleeding or spotting during periods or no periods
  • Alopecia, hair thinning or loss of scalp hair while observing normal hair growth on other parts of the body
  • Multiple miscarriages
  • Experiencing depression
  • Dark skin patches
  • Increased mood swings and problem in conceiving
  • Other health concerns such as hypertension, diabetes, and increased cholesterol levels

Could you please throw some light on the treatment options available for women who want to become mothers?

Since PCOS hampers with the fertility potential, many women with PCOS experience challenges while getting pregnant. But with proper lifestyle changes, treatment plans or IVF options it is possible to conceive.

Monitoring menstrual cycles and tracking ovulation pattern: It is a good idea to maintain a chart to track ovulation with a test kit while monitoring the basal body temperature. If any irregularity is observed, it can lead to lesser possibility of ovulation resulting into lesser chances of conceiving. This tracking needs to be performed for at least six months so the doctor can interpret and suggest treatment measures.

Maintain a suitable body mass index (BMI): Obesity is one of the major concerns when it comes to PCOS. It is imperative to lead a healthier lifestyle with an optimum balance of diet and exercise. It will help in balancing the disrupted hormones and will pave the way for a healthier pregnancy. Regular exercise will also help the body in gaining Vitamin D levels.

Eat healthy to stay healthy: Nutritious rich food goes a long way in keeping the body healthy. PCOS affects the ability to regulate insulin in the body, therefore one should ensure proper diet rich in fiber and proteins to counteract the situation. Lower chromium and magnesium levels in the body can lead to infertility so it is important to ensure consuming both these vital minerals. It is also advised to stay away from consuming sugars and processed foods to maintain the level of hormones in the body.

In-vitro fertilization (IVF): Since PCOS is likely to affect the production of egg cells and ovulation in the body, it can create difficulties in getting pregnant. If medication does not improve the condition, then doctors can step in and advise alternative methods such as IVF to conceive a child.

Care post-conception: It is necessary to maintain the same level of care pre and post conception as PCOS may increase the chances of miscarriage. Doctors recommendations should be followed religiously and the prescribed medications should continue post-conception to ensure a healthy pregnancy and delivery.

 

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