PCOS: Not a disease, but a health disorder: here’s all you need to know

October 1, 2020 2:53 PM

Raising sufficient awareness around PCOS is an urgent need of the hour as a vast majority of women in the country tend to remain ignorant about this condition throughout their lives.

Many women are unaware of the symptoms of PCOS while others disregard it due to its non-fatal nature. (Representational image: Reuters)

By Aarti Gill 

It is estimated that almost one in five women suffer from PCOS in India, and the numbers are only increasing. Often dubbed as a disease, it must be made clear that PCOS is essentially a health disorder. It is a hormonal imbalance that occurs in women in the reproductive age. While the exact cause of PCOS remains largely unknown, it is usually ascribed to hereditary and lifestyle related factors. Raising sufficient awareness around PCOS is an urgent need of the hour as a vast majority of women in the country tend to remain ignorant about this condition throughout their lives.

How PCOS affects women from 15-44 years of age

Mostly prevalent in women aged 15-44, PCOS may affect women of all age and body types. Women suffering from PCOS experience extra production of the male hormone in the female body which leads to excessive hair growth, acne, oily skin, weight gain, etc. The condition can also lead to irregular menstrual cycles in women and lead to difficulty in getting pregnant. This can also contribute to obesity and formation of dark patches on the skin. According to a NCBI study, obesity is a common finding in women with PCOS. 40–80% of women with this condition are reported to be overweight or obese. Women with PCOS may also exhibit Insulin Resistance. This causes high levels of insulin in the body while the blood sugar may remain normal. In such a condition the pancreas produces more insulin and this generates inflammation and causes weight gain. It can also lead to Type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

PCOS: Symptoms

Many women are unaware of the symptoms of PCOS while others disregard it due to its non-fatal nature. A disease results from pathophysiological responses to external and/or internal factors. PCOS cannot be considered as a disease because lifestyle changes like consumption of a clean, plant based diet and exercise schedule, helps manage the symptoms effectively. It is of the utmost importance to create an atmosphere of dialogue around the disorder as it is hushed down by people who consider it a taboo which can then affect mental health too. Thus dialogue here not only serves for awareness but also as an instrument of change to make people’s lives better.

PCOS: Common strategy

A common strategy is to increase dietary protein, however in a country like ours where a huge chunk of the population is vegetarian, we may face a massive challenge.

The best way ahead is to include clean plant based protein in every day diet. Apart from dietary changes, 20 minutes of daily exercise, yoga and meditation will go a long way in mitigating the symptoms of PCOS.

The way to cure PCOS is symptomatic just like the treatment of most disorders. It is important to identify the symptoms, obtain a clear diagnosis and to seek treatment which heavily relies on adopting a holistic and clean lifestyle.

The columnist is Co-founder of OZiva – pioneers in clean, plant based nutrition. Views expressed are the author’s own.

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