PCOS manifests differently in different individuals, but some common symptoms include irregular menstrual cycles, excess hair growth (hirsutism), acne, weight gain and difficulty losing weight. It is important to note that not all women with PCOS have polycystic cysts on their ovaries, despite the name of the condition.
Diagnosing PCOS involves a comprehensive evaluation that includes a detailed medical history, physical examination and blood tests. Ultrasound imaging may also be performed to assess the ovaries and look for polycystic ovaries. The presence of two out of three criteria—irregular periods, elevated androgen levels and polycystic ovaries in ultrasound —may lead to a diagnosis of PCOS.
Lifestyle modifications play a crucial role in managing PCOS and alleviating its symptoms. Regular exercises, such as aerobic activities, strength training and yoga, can help regulate hormones, improve insulin sensitivity and aid in weight management. Aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise per week.
Maintaining a healthy weight is particularly important for women with PCOS, as excess weight can exacerbate hormonal imbalances. A balanced diet rich in whole grains, lean proteins, fruits, vegetables and healthy fats can promote weight loss and overall well-being. Consider incorporating low-glycemic index foods to manage blood sugar levels effectively.
Sometimes, lifestyle modifications alone may not be sufficient to manage PCOS symptoms. Healthcare professionals can prescribe medical interventions to address specific concerns.
Oral contraceptives are commonly prescribed to regulate menstrual cycles and reduce androgen levels. These medications can help control acne and excess hair growth as well. Anti-androgen medications may also be prescribed to block the effects of androgens in the body.
For women with PCOS struggling with fertility, medications like clomiphene citrate or letrozole may be prescribed to induce ovulation. In more complex cases, assisted reproductive technologies such as in vitro fertilisation (IVF) may be recommended.
PCOS can have a significant emotional impact, especially for women facing fertility challenges. It is essential to seek support from healthcare professionals, family and friends. Joining support groups or online communities with individuals who share similar experiences can provide a sense of belonging and understanding.
Understanding and tracking menstrual cycles can be helpful for women trying to conceive. Tools like ovulation predictor kits or fertility tracking apps can assist in identifying the most fertile days. It is crucial to remain patient and not lose hope, as PCOS does not necessarily mean infertility.