PCOS: Why should you get checked for it?
During this PCOS awareness month, it’s high time to check if you have the symptoms listed in this article. 1 in 10 women have PCOS, and it is more prevalent among South Asian women.
PCOS (Polycystic Ovary Syndrome) is a hormonal disorder due to which a female reproductive system doesn’t work the way it is supposed to. When things work against nature, there are bound to be consequences. Before diving in, you need to have an idea of the monthly menstrual cycle.
The menstrual cycle:
A female body produces hormones that signal the reproductive organs what to do. The ovaries develop follicles out of which a mature egg emerges (ovulation). This released egg travels through the fallopian tube into the Uterus. If the egg meets with a sperm in the fallopian tube, it becomes fertilized. The Uterus develops a lining in preparation to cushion the egg in case it is fertilized. If the egg goes unfertilized, the egg and the uterus lining are flushed out as menstrual blood (Menstruation).
What is PCOS?
When one has PCOS, the hormones go rogue. So the signals to the reproductive organs become messed up. The ovaries create several follicles (Polycystic ovary), but a mature egg fails to emerge. Due to insufficient signals from hormones, the uterine line also doesn’t shed. The uterine line becomes thicker due to accumulation over several months. When it reaches a point where the body can’t hold it anymore, it flushes the lining out as blood.
Why is PCOS bad?
- Ovulation occurs rarely. To produce a baby, a sperm and an egg are necessary. So no egg release means no chance of conception. Hence this affects female fertility.
- The Uterine line keeps building up and isn’t flushed out every month. While those cells stay in the Uterus unnecessarily for long periods, there’s a chance they will turn into cancer cells.
- Since the accumulated uterine line is shed only once in many months (irregular periods), bleeding is heavier. Hence, it is more painful.
- People with PCOS experience Chronic fatigue and feel tired all the time.
How to check if you might have PCOS?
- Irregular periods. If you don’t menstruate every month, you should visit your OB-Gyn
- Prolonged bleeding. When the periods do arrive, you might bleed for weeks together.
- Obesity. You could eat right and exercise, but still gain weight.
- Unwanted and excessive hair growth (Hirsutism) is another symptom. When the male hormones dominate your body, you might observe excessive hair growth in your face and body. (Read this article on Hirsutism)
What type of PCOS do you have?
To reverse your PCOS symptoms, you need to know what is causing it. Depending on the cause, there are four types.
High insulin levels in the blood cause ovaries to release male hormones causing PCOS.
When your immune system believes it’s under constant threat, inflammation occurs.Inflammation makes the ovaries release an excess of male hormones hence causing PCOS.
When you are constantly in a fight or flight mode, your body releases hormones like adrenaline and stress hormones like Cortisol along with male hormones. Stress causes Adrenal PCOS.
When you go off birth control pills, there’s a sudden change in how the ovaries act, resulting in PCOS.
When you identify what kind of PCOS you have, it becomes easy to undertake the necessary actions to reverse it. So, how to reverse each type listed above? Keep an eye out for the next article to find out.