Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) or Polycystic ovarian disease (PCOD) is a leading cause of infertility which affects some 35 per cent of women in their reproductive years. The incidence of PCOS is rising, perhaps due to changing lifestyles, particularly, altered diet and exercise patterns. Its primary cause remains unclear.
Young women who get diagnosed with PCOS commonly seek medical attention because of irregular menstrual periods, missed periods, obesity, infertility, acne, excessive hair growth and thinning of hair on the scalp. Symptoms begin to show up around puberty and start of menstruation. However, many do not develop symptoms until their mid 20s.
It has been shown that PCOS is an insulin-resistant state. This means there is too much insulin which is likely to cause testosterone overproduction by the ovaries. High levels of testosterone lead to absence of egg release (an ovulation), amenorrhea (missed periods) and infertility.
PCOS has also been linked to high cholesterol levels, high blood pressure and abdominal obesity. It increases the risk of type II diabetes, heart disease, endometriosis and cancer.
Diagnosis of PCOD has to be by Hormonal study. USG evidence of polycystic ovary can be due to other causes like Hypothyroid & high Prolactin as well. Diagnosis is confirmed by high levels of Insulin and Luteinising hormone along with high male hormones at times.
Weight loss is essential for obese women with PCOS. It has been shown that even a 10 to 15 per cent weight reduction resulted in spontaneous conception in about 75 per cent of obese infertile women with PCOS.
A healthy diet also helps. Low glycemic food products like wheat bran, barley, oats, grainy breads, whole seeds, lentils, kidney beans are recommended as they are digested slowly and induce less insulin secretion. They are associated with increased HDL, weight loss and improvement in insulin sensitivity and PCOS.
However changing lifestyle is the key factor. Increase fat burning exercises & healthy eating is the only way to keep PCOD away.