WHAT ARE POLYCYSTIC OVARIES?
Women with polycystic ovaries have ovaries which are larger in size and contain more than the usual number of follicles. ‘Follicles’ are tiny round structures normally seen in the ovary – each follicle contains an egg. Polycystic ovaries are common and are seen in 1 in 5 women.
WHAT IS POLYCYSTIC OVARIAN SYNDROME?
PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome) occurs in around 5% of women with polycystic ovaries. Women with PCOS may have the following problems
Prolonged and irregular bleeding
Excessive body hair
Dark skin on the back of the neck
Difficulty becoming pregnant
Excessive body weight and difficulty in loosing it
HOW IS PCOS DIAGNOSED?
PCOS is diagnosed when a woman has some of the above mentioned problems. Your doctor might need to perform an ultrasound scan and perform certain blood tests to confirm the diagnosis.
WHAT CAUSES PCOS?
The exact cause of PCOS is not known. PCOS tends to run in families. Abnormalities in the way certain hormones are produced in the body are likely to have an important role. Rapid weight gain in women with polycystic ovaries might bring out or worsen symptoms of PCOS.
CAN PCOS BE CURED?
PCOS cannot be cured. By maintaining a healthy lifestyle, the symptoms of PCOS can be kept under control. Your doctor might need to prescribe medications to help you regularise your periods or to help you become pregnant.
WHAT ARE THE LONG TERM RISKS?
Women with PCOS have a higher risk of developing diabetes later in life and during pregnancy. This risk is higher if your parents have diabetes. There is growing evidence that there is a increased risk to develop hypertension (high blood pressure), dyslipidemia (high levels of bad cholesterol) and heart disease. Women with PCOS who have infrequent periods, have a higher chance of developing abnormal thickening of the inner lining of the uterus and rarely endometrial cancer.
INFERTILITY AND PCOS
Women with PCOS might take longer to become pregnant and might need medications to help them conceive.
WHAT CAN I DO?
Symptoms of PCOS can be kept under control by –
Maintaining a normal body weight – your BMI should be between 20 and 25.
A balanced diet with adequate fruits, vegetables and fibre. Avoid excessive oil, sugar and salt.
Exercise for 30 minutes three to four times a week.
Regular health check ups – get your blood pressure and blood sugar checked every year. Additional tests like blood cholesterol and ultrasound scan may be performed if indicated.