what is PCOS?

Poly Cystic Ovarian Syndrome is a common hormonal condition that affects every 1 in 5 women in their reproductive ages and almost 70% of these cases remain undiagnosed. The word ‘Poly Cystic’ literally means multiple cysts in the ovaries. But having said that, doesn’t mean you have cysts in ovaries. Interestingly some women with PCOS do not have cysts in their ovaries. The reason of what causes PCOS is still unknown. Doctors can’t discover what exactly causes PCOS. However they believe genetics, family history of PCOS, hormones and also lifestyle plays vital role behind PCOS. Upto 70% of women with PCOS have insulin resistance and it could lead to type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

The hormonal imbalance in PCOS usually show up symptoms such as,

1. Irregular periods/ infrequent ovulation/ scanty blood flow or over flow, this might lead to infertility in some cases.

2. Higher level of male hormone ( androgen) which is a type of hormone including testosterone. This could show up symptoms in your body as acne , excessive facial/ body hair growth, scalp hair loss, high level of androgen in the blood.

3. Small cysts in ovaries( which can be detected through a pelvic ultrasound test)

women with PCOS have any of these symptoms. But some women may even experience severe head ache and mood swing due to hormones fluctuation.

There are four types of PCOS,

Type 1: Insulin- resistance PCOS

  • This is most common and classic type of PCOS. In this type, high levels of insulin prevent ovulation( release of egg from ovaries) and trigger the ovaries to produce the hormone called testosterone ( male hormone). This could be caused by excessive intake of sugar, transfatty acid (from fried food, junk food), smoking and evironmental pollution.

Type 2: Inflammatory PCOS

  • Apart from your typical PCOS symptoms, if you have other immune disorder such as recurring infections, headaches, skin condition, joint pain, your blood tests show vitamin-D deficiency, may have increased levels of thyroid or decreased blood count levels. Then this could be your PCOS type. The type is often seen in women who are not overweight. So when you have Inflammatory PCOS, due to inflammation your ovulation may get disrupted as a result, hormones get imbalanced and lead to production of more androgen. So the reasom for your inflammation could be, environmental toxins, stress and food intolerances.

Type 3: Post pill PCOS

  • This type gets evolved due to intake of contraceptive pills. This is the second most common type of PCOS. These birth control pilld never balance your hormones. They switch off the hormones. When you take birth control pill, it suppress your ovulation. But for most of the women, it gives temporary effecy and ovulation re-start pretty soon after the pill is stopped. But for some women, ovulation doesn’t happen easily after they stop the pill. For them suppression of ovulation can keep on going for months or years.

Type 4: Adernal PCOS/ Hidden PCOS

  • This type is much more simpler form of PCOS. This type of PCOS is not driven by inflammation or insulin resistance. Mostly in women with PCOS have high level of androgen. Testosterone and androstenedione are the types of androgen produced in ovaries and dehydroepiandrosterone(DHAE) is a type of a male hormone produced in Adernal gland. So if you have high level of DHEA and if your testosterone and androstenedione levels are normal, then you might have Adernal/hidden PCOS. The causes of adernal PCOS is thyroid disease, iodine deficiency and vegen diet.

Hormonal pills: Do we really get an actual period after intaking pills? The simple answer is NO. Then what’s that bleeding you get when you’re on the pill? The bleeding is called “withdrawal bleeding”. It means when you stop your hormonal pills your hormones level drop and this causes the lining of the endometrium to shed. So it’s not your natural period and infact you don’t ovulate when you’re on pills.

Finally, the effects of PCOS can be decreased by,

  • Maintaining a healthy weight (weight loss can reduce insulin and androgen levels and restore ovulation)
  • Intake healthy foods
  • Be active, exercise helps lower blood sugar levels
  • Limit carbohydrates intake
  • Practice yoga and meditation ( butterfly pose helps in PCOS symptoms)

Healthy is much more dependent on our habits and nutrition than on medicine. you’re what, you eat.

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