Treatment And Management of PCOS
“Diet modification and lifestyle changes play an important role in the treatment of PCOS”
Polycystic ovary syndrome or PCOS is one of the most common endocrine disorders affecting between five-seven per cent of women in their reproductive age. This syndrome was first recognized by scientists Stein and Leventhal for its association with menstrual irregularity in the year 1935. The symptoms and clinical findings that are usually associated with PCOS include irregular menstrual cycles, acne, excessive coarse hair on mid areas, difficulty in losing weight, hair fall and pigmentation of skin around the neck, underarms and thighs.
The diagnosis of PCOS is made on the basis of a patient’s symptoms and blood tests that include hormonal tests. Ultrasound is also a useful tool in the diagnosis of PCOS as it highlights the enlarged ovaries which contain multiple cysts, (fluid filled spaces). Hence, this condition is called polycystic ovary syndrome.
Treatment of PCOS
Diet modification and lifestyle changes play an important role in the treatment of PCOS. Patients with PCOS tend to be overweight due to a high level of the insulin hormone in the body. Losing the extra weight Is extremely important but it is advisable not to lose all the extra weight in one go.
The weight loss reduces the level of insulin flowing in the blood and thus helps the patient lose weight. Ideally, losing approximately two kilograms per month is sufficient. Patients are also advised exercises such as swimming, jogging and brisk walking for six days a week. These exercises help in losing fat. The other exercising options include fast dancing or playing games like tennis or badminton.
Adolescent girls (13-19 years of age) have a tendency to skip meals. Therefore, an emphasis should but on eating at regular intervals (every three-four hours). Diet modification should include food with low glycemic index (food that does not cause rapid increase in the blood sugar levels) like kidney beans, lentils, non-starchy vegetables, cereals and whole grain breads. The foods that should be avoided include white flour, carbonated drinks, fruit juices, ice cream and candies.
PCOS is a condition that one is born with and will always remain, but the best way to manage it is to keep weight under control and be under the supervision of a doctor. This is necessary because PCOS has implications beyond cosmetic issues. It affects fertility and when one is pregnant it could lead to gestational diabetes and hypertension.
After the age of 40, women with PCOS, especially those who are obese, have a higher risk of developing the metabolic syndrome which can lead to cardiac deaths. Also, following menopause, women with PCOS have a higher chance of uterine malignancy. Hence, a regular follow-up on an annual basis is almost mandatory, even if one is diagnosed with PCOS at the age of 18.