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Body Talk: The Hormone Hell Of Pcod

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what causes pcos

Welcome to our Body Talk series where our in-house Nykaa editors cover educational and important conversations on body health.

Bloating, irregular, painful periods, hair in the oddest places, and the worst, inexplicable weight gain…some of the commonest symptoms of Polycystic Ovary Syndrome every woman with ovaries should know.

It’s actually one of the commonest hormonal disorders known to (wo)man, second probably to a thyroid imbalance. Did you know it hits 1 in every 5 women, which is why it’s odd that most sufferers seek the temporary solace of a hot water bottle and not much else. Here’s what you should know. 

It occasionally runs in families but it’s quite possible that if you are the only one in your family struggling with PCOS. Doctors aren’t sure who will get it and who won’t, though studies indicate high stress levels, out of sync insulin, junk food, irregular eating habits and too many late nights can trigger it. The condition manifests as small bead like ovarian cysts that wreak havoc on the body’s glands.    

Symptoms can widely vary; many women don’t even know they have it! But some of the commonest symptoms include oily skin, stubborn acne that keeps returning, irregular, scanty or even absent periods, excessive facial and body hair but thinning hair on the head, and weight gain. In women looking to start a family, miscarriages or difficulty in getting pregnant are also common fallouts because of irregular ovulation.

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Here’s some food for thought. Initial studies show that women with PCOS are at higher risk of depression, partly caused by the hormonal imbalance. Whether the condition leads to depression or vice versa is still under debate, but if you feel blue on a regular basis, it might be a good idea to see a mental health specialist. Other symptoms include a tendency to get skin tags around the neck and armpits, dandruff, and even high blood pressure. 

Getting diagnosed is easier said than done and unfortunately, there’s no one single test to give you a confirmatory diagnosis. The gold standard though us to have an ultrasound scan and a blood test. Typically raised androgen levels—and some of the above symptoms—are confirmation enough.

If you are one of those either with full-blown symptoms or edging towards them, your diet can have a huge impact in taming the beast. Being overweight or obese increases the amount of insulin your body makes, feeding PCOS. Unfortunately having PCOS also increases your craving for fatty, carb laden treats.  So, what’s a girl to do? Eat a low GI diet with a rainbow of vegetables, good quality proteins (beans, pulses, nuts, seeds, chicken, fresh fish and eggs) and healthy fats like nuts, seeds, almonds and flax seeds. There are several supplements that help too; including Vitamin D and good quality Fish Oil such as HealthAid Vitamin D 500iu Vitamin D2- Ergocalciferol and MuscleXP Omega 3 Fish Oil 60 Softgels.

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In some cases medication might be necessary to manage symptoms and control insulin levels. If you plan to start a family, there are meds to encourage ovulation and control hormone imbalances. But medicines alone won’t be as effective as a three-pronged approach involving diet, exercise and medication. With a little self-discipline and tough love, you can go on to leading a healthy, active life.

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