Q: What is the main cause of PCOS?
A: PCOS affects 1 in 5 women during the childbearing age. The main cause behind the endocrinological condition is not clear, but experts have suggested that genetics, excess androgens, and insulin resistance are some of the causative factors.
Q: How do I know I have PCOS?
A: There are various symptoms that attribute to the possibility of a woman experiencing PCOS. Some of the common symptoms include irregular menstrual/period cycles, acne, and heavy menstrual bleeding. Speaking to a gynecologist can confirm a PCOS diagnosis. This is done through blood testing and physical examination
Q: At what age do PCOS symptoms start?
A: PCOS, marked by the overproduction of androgens, or male hormones, affects women of reproductive ages – 15 – 44 years. The condition, which is becoming increasingly common in India, affects obese women more commonly. 80% of women diagnosed with PCOS are either overweight or obese.
Q: Does PCOS have a cure?
A: There is no cure for PCOS, but the symptoms that it causes can be effectively managed with diet and lifestyle changes such as a balanced diet, weight loss management, and if needed, medications such as OCP’s.
Q: How are PCOS cysts removed?
A: If the hormonal condition isn’t responsive to the above treatment, surgical management is an option to help restore ovulation in women. Ovarian drilling may be one of the options suggested.
Q: What foods should I avoid in PCOS?
A: Avoid processed and fried foods, refined flour, and sugary beverages when diagnosed with PCOS. PCOS patients should eat foods that have a low glycaemic index i.e foods that are low in natural sugars and that are anti-inflammatory.
Q: Is PCOS dangerous and/or life-threatening?
A: PCOS is not a life-threatening condition and is managed effectively with lifestyle and diet modifications. However, the condition does pose a risk to other health conditions such as PCOS infertility,heart diseases, and type II diabetes.
Q: What are the best exercises for PCOS patients?
A: Strengthening exercises such as swimming, cycling, and yoga are great exercises for PCOS patients. They can help in core strength, improve bone density and help maintain a healthy heart rate. Another option is high-intensity interval training(HIIT) that involves a combination of outdoor and indoor activities with intervals of rest.
Read more on Yoga for PCOS and PCOS Exercises at home that you can follow.
Q: Can I get pregnant with PCOS? Why is it difficult?
A: A diagnosis can pose a significant challenge when it comes to pregnancy along with an increased risk of complications during pregnancy and birth-giving. This is due to the fact that PCOS results in a high level of male hormones in the body that prevent ovulation – the release of an egg. There are ways, however, to increase the chances of pregnancy by consuming a healthy and nutritious diet and a 5-10% weight loss.
Q: Is endometriosis and PCOS the same thing?
A: No. Endometriosis and PCOS are two different conditions that pose similar problems of hormonal imbalance and infertility. Endometriosis causes the tissue that lines your uterus to grow outside the organ. This can cause severe pelvic pain, dysmenorrhea, painful sex, and infertility.
Q: How are PCOS and diabetes connected?
A: Insulin resistance occurs when the body’s cells do not respond to the insulin produced by the pancreas. This causes the pancreas to produce more insulin which leads to increased body insulin levels which leads to the ovaries producing more testosterone.
One of the main causes of insulin resistance is obesity – this is the link between obesity as a risk factor for PCOS. Too much insulin, a peptide hormone, can lead to type 2 diabetes if not treated appropriately.
Q: Can PCOS cause depression?
A: The main symptoms of PCOS such as irregular menstruation, acne, weight gain, and hirsutism are widely known, but women diagnosed with PCOS are 3 times more likely diagnosed with mental health conditions such as depression and anxiety.
The cause behind PCOS posing an increased risk to these mental health conditions isn’t clearly known at this point in time. This may be due to the hormonal imbalance caused by the endocrine condition, self-esteem issues or a combination of factors.
Q: How is PCOS diagnosed?
A: There isn’t one test that can diagnose PCOS, but there is a procedure followed by gynecologists that help them diagnose the hormonal disorder. The diagnosis procedure involves physical examination, ultrasound, and blood testing.
The presence of two of the following criteria will confirm a PCOS diagnosis
- Increased levels of male androgens
- Irregular periods
- Polycystic ovaries
Q: How is PCOS treated? What are the common medications used for PCOS?
A: Medications for PCOS treatment include combined OCP’s which contain estrogen and progesterone prescribed to stabilize the body’s hormone levels and regulate the menstrual cycle and progestin which when administered for 10-14 days every 1-2 months can help regulate hormone levels aiding in relieving symptoms of PCOS caused by hormone imbalance.
Q: What are some safe dairy alternatives for women with PCOS?
A: Lactaid, a type of dairy milk that has lactose removed, is a safe alternative for women diagnosed with PCOS.
Q: What does a PCOS belly look like?
A: There is no distinct way a PCOS belly would look, those diagnosed with the condition have a higher BMI. PCOS affects the way the body utilizes glucose and converts it into fats that are most commonly deposited around the belly area.
Women often experience what’s commonly known as “muffin top” or excess fat deposited in the lower belly, closer to the waist area.
Q: Is PCOS sexually transmitted?
A: No, PCOS isn’t a sexually transmitted disease. Experts have dictated that there are contributing factors that cause the condition: genetics, insulin resistance, excess androgens and low-grade inflammation
Q: Is PCOS painful?
A: PCOS is a hormonal disorder that doesn’t commonly cause pain in the pelvic area for all women. However, the condition does cause a hormonal imbalance that affects a woman’s menstrual cycle. Women can experience heavy menstrual bleeding and bloating which can cause painful cramps.
Q: Is soya chunks good for PCOS?
A: There is certain evidence that soy products will help prevent Diabetes and heart disease. Though the exact reason is not known, they have found that consuming soy products may help improve metabolic health and Insulin resistance.
Q: Is chicken good for PCOS?
A: Yes, lean meats or protein such as chicken, tofu, and fish are healthy dietary options for women that have PCOS. However, fried chicken should not be an option as fried and processed foods can cause inflammation in the body and exacerbate PCOS symptoms.
Q: Is egg good for PCOS?
A: Yes. Foods that are rich in protein such as beans, nuts, tofu, eggs, chicken, and fish are safe for those with PCOS. In fact, combining protein-rich foods with foods that contain fat or carbs, can help reduce the absorption of carbs in the body which will maintain insulin levels as well.
Q: Is Ghee good for PCOS?
A: Yes. Ghee is a good fat and in moderate amounts good for those diagnosed with PCOS. We say moderation because even though it is a healthy fat, it is still a fat. Women diagnosed with PCOS tend to gain weight quickly, and have a challenging time reducing it – therefore, monitoring of fat consumption is imperative.
There is no cure for Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, and it is a lifelong condition with no definitive cure or treatment. However, lifestyle and diet modifications are effective first-line treatments for the hormonal condition, even though it is highly ignored.
The symptoms and the severity of the symptoms can vary from woman to woman diagnosed with, and therefore self-diagnosis and self-medication should not be the norm. The condition itself poses several health risks and complications; self-medicating can worsen the symptoms and can cause worse complications.
If you experience an irregular menstrual cycle, have treatment-resistant acne, increased hair growth, etc, see a gynecologist. A gynecologist will use your medical history, blood testing, and an ultrasound to confirm a PCOS diagnosis – or possibly another hormonal or endocrinology disorder.
A one size fits all approach isn’t the answer when treating Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, rather prioritizing a healthy diet and lifestyle and following a treatment plan set up by a gynecologist should be the goal.