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Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS): The Many Ways This Condition Affects A Woman's Body

PCOS affects women during their reproductive age. This condition affects a woman's quality of life. Here are some of the complications you need to know.

Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS): The Many Ways This Condition Affects A Womans Body

PCOS symptoms can be managed effectively with a healthy diet and lifestyle


  1. PCOS stands for Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome
  2. Women with PCOS can experience acne, weight gain and hair fall
  3. If left untreated PCOS can also lead to infertility

PCOS or Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome is a common condition in young women. As many as 20-30% of young women suffer from this problem with symptoms of irregular menstrual cycles, hormonal imbalances that causes skin and hair problems, health and metabolism issues. PCOS might also affect fertility or complicate pregnancy. Fortunately, most of these issues can be tackled by lifestyle changes and regular treatment.

Cysts or clusters of fluid-filled sacks appear in abnormal amounts in the ovary and therefore hinders the normal functioning of the ovaries. This may prevent the discharge of the ovum into the fallopian tube, thereby disrupting the whole menstrual cycle. The occurrence of periods become not only irregular and delayed but may even stop for long periods of time. Moreover, levels of the male hormone increase in the body, sometimes causing extra hair growth on face and on the body overall. There is often hair fall and male pattern baldness which can be very distressing for women.

Also read: Having Trouble With PCOS? Try These Simple Lifestyle Changes


PCOS leads to irregular menstrual cycle and hair fall
Photo Credit: iStock

One of the common symptoms or effects of PCOS is acne and pimples and depending on the lifestyle, diet and habits of the person, the acne formation on the face ranges from moderate to severe. Due to excessive androgen levels in the body, especially dihydrotestosterone or DHT an excessive production of oil and sebum takes place. This results in clogging of the skin pores. Clogged skin pores, together with bacteria formation, gives rise to the inflammation that results in acne. Some women do not have to bear the brunt of suffering from excessive acne while others do. These excessive male hormones also cause increase in facial hair growth.

Also read: Endometriosis And PCOS: Understanding The Importance Of Early Diagnosis

Another common problem with PCOS is that of weight gain. As the basic problem in many of these cases is insulin insensitivity, the women easily puts on weight. They are also prone to developing diabetes if care is not taken.

The most important way to control the effects of PCOS is to have healthy lifestyle- exercising, getting enough sleep, hydration and maintaining a balanced diet. This in turn not only helps reduce weight but also may regularize menses and improve symptoms such as acne. In other cases, medication is prescribed which may be hormone pills to regularise menses, improve acne and reduce facial hair. Anti-male hormone drugs may be needed sometimes as well as insulin sensitising medicines.

Many women with PCOS have difficulty in becoming pregnant as the egg does not come out regularly every month. This can be treated quite effectively with tablets or injections. Sometimes more advanced treatments like Intrauterine insemination or IVF are needed. PCOS may be a contributing factor in causing high risk or complicated pregnancies due to development of diabetes in pregnancy as well as a higher rate of miscarriages. Lifestyle changes like cutting down carbohydrates, sugars and fatty acids along with moderate exercise will help these patients even in pregnancy. Regular check-ups with the gynaecologist will reduce risk of complications.

If a women with Polycystic ovaries suffers from delayed menses for years and does not take treatment and especially if she is obese, she has a high risk of developing cancer of the uterus as she grows older. Also the risks of getting high triglycerides, high sugar and cholesterol is there commonly in PCOS women.

Also read: PCOS Related Acne: Know The Link; Here Are Some Tips To Fight This

Polycystic ovary syndrome is a very common disorder in women and one that can cause problems throughout life. It can be managed and a plethora of treatments and medication is available. Just follow up with your doctor from time to time, have a healthy lifestyle and that will help you lead your life normally.

(Dr Rishma Dhillon Pai, MD.FRCOG(UK) DNB.FCPS.DGO.FICOG, Consultant gynaecologist Lilavati, Jaslok and Hinduja hospitals, Mumbai, past president FOGSI,ISAR,IAGE,MOGS, asst treasurer-International federation of fertility societies)

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