Unhealthy lifestyle ups PCOS in young women

Bengaluru: Hormonal disorders among women are growing and nearly 20 per cent of teenagers have been affected with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). The incidence among the reproductive age group has gone up to 15-20% from 6-15% say, city doctors said. PCOS is a syndrome or group of symptoms that affect ovaries and ovulation. 

A 17-year-old girl, Suma (name changed), had bilateral PCOS associated with metabolic disorders-altered blood sugars, elevated lipid profile and disturbed menstrual cycle. She is now under treatment and put on a monitored lifestyle modification. There are many extra-ovarian aspects to the pathophysiology of PCOS, yet ovarian dysfunction is the central part. The syndrome is surrounded by controversies on both diagnosis and treatment.

Dr Lavanya Kiran, Consultant-OBG, Reproductive Medicine, Robotic Surgery at Narayana Health City, said, “Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a collection of signs and symptoms which together form a spectrum of the disorder with mild presentation in some and severe in few.”

She said that in a month, Narayana Health sees at least 20-30 women aged between 18 and 40 with PCOS. Of them, 20% are teenagers.

Doctors said that PCOS is one of the major causes for infertility. “Around 10 per cent of women in the country are affected with PCOS. It is on the rise because of modern-day lifestyle of youngsters which includes faulty dietary habits and no regular physical activity. Losing weight is a must. Make sure that your body mass index (BMI) is within the range of (18.5–22.9). Treatment can help control the symptoms and prevent long-term complications, such as infertility, heart diseases and diabetes,” said Dr Aviva Pinto Rodrigues, Fertility Consultant at Nova IVI Fertility, Sadashivanagar.

Dr Manjula Gaekwad, Senior Consultant – Obstetrician and Gynaecology at Sagar Hospitals, said, “Women with PCOS produce higher-than-normal amounts of male hormones. This hormonal imbalance causes them to skip menstrual cycle and makes it harder for them to get pregnant, as they tend to develop cyst in their ovaries.”

The cause of PCOS is unknown, but there appears to be a connection with family history, insulin resistance and lifestyle or environment, said Dr Nirmala Chandrashekhar, Consultant Obstetrics, Gynaecology and Gynaec Oncology, BGS Gleneagles Global Hospitals. “Many symptoms of PCOS are caused by high levels of androgens or ‘male hormones’ circulating in your body, causing 'hyperandrogenism'. All women produce small amounts of androgens in body tissues including ovaries and the adrenal glands. High levels of androgens can prevent ovulation and affect the menstrual cycle.”

She said that a healthy lifestyle of nutritious food and physical activity can help treat PCOS and prevent it.  

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