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Here Dr. Divya Sudarshan discusses in detail the causes and cure of PCOS ( poly cystic ovaries syndrome). A must read for every woman.
It is becoming common these days that a woman has been diagnosed with poly cystic ovaries syndrome (PCOS). PCOS can be seen in women across age groups from adolescence to mid-age to even pre menopausal. Studies are showing that about 18% of Indian women have PCOS and this number seems to be increasing.
In conversation with Dr. Divya Sudarshan of Happy Women Clinic, we find out the challenges women and girls face and how we can help each other.
“There are different challenges at different ages. There is weight gain, acne, hair loss, hair growth in many places, certain distinct rough features and irregular periods. These are the physical problems related to PCOS. Due to the hormonal imbalance in the body, there are a lot of emotional problems related to anger, depression and anxiety. At adolescence, a lot of a girl’s self-esteem is dependent on looks. The adolescent girl obviously doesn’t care about fertility. But the disorder can cause a lot of digression from what society perceives as ideal body image. This has adverse affects on her mood and her wellbeing,” said Dr. Divya. This causes a lot of emotional and mental turbulence in addition to the chaos caused by the hormones.
Our obsession with fertility makes us not go to doctors till we assume something is wrong. “Most women come to us when there is a delayed period or irregular cycles. We don’t respond to any of the other symptoms. Lots of weight gain is attributed to those mood-swing binges. Often we don’t even notice the weight gain till there is a passing insensitive, thoughtless comments by a neighbour, boyfriend or a friend,” she said. This probably triggers a doctor’s visit and she added that it is unfortunate that women aren’t used to observing their own bodies.
With growing awareness, it is becoming easier to detect PCOS. Since it acts along with thyroid and prolactin, fertility is only one of the problems. “Earlier, marriage and having children was the only problem. Now 13-14-year-old girls also come because of cosmetic reasons. I am not concerned too much with the reason they come as long as they come. Then, there is a possibility of helping her.”
She added that the problem with 25 – 30-year-olds is they usually visit the doctor when they have had trouble conceiving for a few years. “By the time they come to a doctor, they have been having the problem for a while. The hormonal imbalance takes a while to fix. A lot of the infertility women face is from PCOS,” she said.
She felt that fears of infertility at least brought the women to the doctor. In several cases, the younger women have far more problems and a weak support system to help them go through it.
“It is essential that we begin conversation about this much earlier. In schools, girls must be spoken to about this. Parents are worried that doctors will medicate girls. But for a 15-16 year old we are not worried about fertility. We are worried about ensuring overall wellbeing. Hiding our heads like ostriches and pretending that we don’t have a problem will not make the disorder go away,” she stated matter of fact.
She says with a little irony, “Often women and girls who have PCOS have skin pigmentation and can be overweight. They bundle themselves up with coats and scarves. All we want is women to feel comfortable and happy in what they wear and their skin, of course.”
Facts you must know about PCOS
How can it be detected?
Only 30% of the cases can be detected via ultra sound.
Complimentary tests of hormones
Often the signs are seen in behaviour and require an observant family member or doctor to notice the overall wellbeing is affected.
The doctor suggests that early detection helps.
30 to 40 % of the time could be genetics.
Mostly a hormonal conundrum – in relation with thyroid and prolactin
Doctors pro tip: Talk to girls early on and help them understand their bodies better. Love their bodies more. Eat healthy. Fertility related issues of PCOS are easier to work on with medication. The self-esteem related issues, depression and anxiety are more difficult issues that require support groups and an understanding environment.
Cover image via Shutterstock