Doctor’s Appointment | PCOS affecting 10 per cent of women worldwide
Weight gain, irregular periods, mood swings, infertility and depression. One in every 10 women worldwide experience these symptoms as they are tied to polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), a common hormone imbalance that primarily affects the reproductive system.
Known for affecting the menstrual cycle, fertility, hormone, heart, blood vessels and appearance of a woman, this condition affects the lives of girls, mothers, wives and young women alike once they have hit childbearing age.
Dr Michael Abrahams, consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist at Ruthven Medical Centre, sat down with our host, Dr Sara Lawrence, to discuss this condition, its symptoms, treatment options and support available for women living with this disease.
In addition to symptoms already mentioned, women suffering from PCOS also have to deal with hormonal changes and imbalances which cause them to grow excessive facial or body hair, coupled with male-pattern hair loss.
In many instances, these women also show signs of low self-esteem, depression and dramatic mood swings, often mistaken for bipolar disorder. It also causes oily skin and acne.
Dr Abrahams explained that though this condition can cause women to have a higher risk of infertility and more chances of having miscarriages or stillbirths, it must not be confused with having cysts on the ovaries, which must be surgically removed.
Rather, with PCOS, the ovaries are a little enlarged and have growths that look like beads, which may not require surgery for removal.
MANAGEMENT: Lose weight.
Dr Abrahams said excessive fat produces excessive estrogen and can overstimulate the lining of the uterus. In some cases, this can also lead to insulin resistance and increased androgen production.
He encouraged women to get treatment because if PCOS is left untreated, the condition can lead to cancer of the uterus lining, especially as these women get older.
Furthermore, for women with PCOS who desire to bear children, he encouraged them to lose weight or consult with their OBGYN about special medication available that can increase the likelihood of conception, by helping them stabilise their ovulation cycles.
TREATMENT AND SUPPORT
PCOS cannot be cured but can be controlled. Women living with PCOS have the option of taking medication specifically for fertility, hormonal imbalance or diabetes, as well as birth-control pills as prescribed by their physician.
Dr Abrahams also suggested surgically burning the ovaries where the follicles are or drilling holes in the ovary to help control spontaneous cycles after surgery. And, of course, pointed to the importance of developing and maintaining a healthy weight and diet plan.
But these women cannot overcome the challenges associated with their condition all by themselves. They need support, Dr Abrahams said. He explained that it is important for family members, especially partners/spouses, to be empathetic as they go through together this distressing period of their lives.
He admitted that for women with PCOS, life can be very difficult and even frustrating, but like with any other disease, if they have the support they need then they can conquer their illness.
The 6 p.m. 'Dr's Appointment' Facebook live segment, continued the PCOS informative session with Dr Meade of Winchester Surgical and Medical Institute talking directly with viewers who had questions that needed answers in real time.
Join us next Sunday at 5:30 p.m. on TVJ, and Facebook live at 6 p.m., when we look at cataracts with Dr Neil McGill. 'Doctor's Appointment' is a family and health-oriented television programme that is produced by Maverick Communications Limited.