PCOS: The Biggest Cause of Infertility in Women
03-04-2018 | Posted By: Chhavi | 997 View(s)
PCOS, medically termed as Polycystic ovary syndrome is a hormonal disorder that affects a woman’s hormone levels. The condition is highly common among women of reproductive age. Women with Polycystic ovary syndrome have higher-than-normal amounts of male hormones. This hormone imbalance leads to irregular periods and may even cause infertility. PCOS is not a chronic condition. However, it may give rise to many health conditions, which is why it should be treated in time.
What is Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)?
PCOS is a common problem that affects women between age 15 to 44. Many women have PCOS, but they don’t experience any symptoms and never come to know about it. According to a study, up to 70 percent of women with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome had not been diagnosed. Hence, it is important to go for a health checkup on a regular basis to keep such health conditions at bay.
The ovaries produce estrogen and progesterone- two major hormones that regulate the menstrual cycle. The ovaries also produce the male hormones called androgens in a small amount. The ovaries release eggs to be fertilised by a man’s sperm and the release of an egg every month is called ovulation. There are two hormones namely, follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) and luteinising hormone (LSH) that controls ovulation. FSH causes the ovary to produce a follicle, and LH triggers the ovary to release a mature egg.
Polycystic ovary syndrome is a condition or group of symptoms that affect the ovulation and ovaries. Some of the main features of PCOS are:
1. Cysts in the ovaries
2. High levels of male hormones
3. Irregular or skipped periods
In this condition, several fluid-filled sacs grow inside the ovaries. These sacs are follicles and contain an immature egg. These eggs never mature enough to trigger ovulation. The lack of ovulation alters levels of progesterone, FSH, estrogen, and LH. Androgen levels are higher than usual, while progesterone and estrogen levels are lower than usual. Extra androgen levels disrupt the menstrual cycle, which is why women with PCOS get fewer periods than usual.
What Are The Symptoms of PCOS?
Many women experience symptoms of PCOS around the time of their first menstrual period. However, many women do not experience any symptom until they gain weight or have problems getting pregnant. The most common symptoms of PCOS are
1. Irregular periods
Irregular, or prolonged menstrual cycles are the most common sign of PCOS. If your periods are not regular, consult a gynaecologist immediately.
2. Heavy Bleeding
Women with PCOS may get heavier periods than normal because the uterine linings build up for a longer period.
Women with PCOS may have acne problems. Male hormones make the skin more oily and cause acne breakouts on the face, chest, and upper back.
4. Hair Growth
More than 70 percent of women with PCOS grow hair on their face and body.
5. Weight Gain
Most women with PCOS are overweight or obese. If you have recently gained weight all of a sudden, consult a doctor because it may be a sign of PCOS.
Hormone changes in the body can also trigger headaches in many women.
7. Male-Pattern Baldness
PCOS may cause thinning of the hair which can result in male-pattern baldness.
What Are The Causes Of PCOS?
The exact cause of PCOS is not known. Doctors believe that high levels of male hormones in the body prevent the ovaries from producing hormones and making eggs normally. Some of the factors that are linked to excess androgen production are
Insulin resistance is one of the major factors that cause PCOS. Women with Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) are more prone to diabetes because their cells cannot use insulin properly. Insulin is the hormone pancreas produces that allows cells to use sugar properly. When cells are not able to use insulin properly, the body’s demand for insulin increases which causes the pancreas to make more insulin. Extra insulin causes the ovaries to produce more androgen (male hormones) which may result in PCOS.
Many studies have shown that women with PCOS have a kind of low-grade inflammation that triggers polycystic ovaries to produce more androgens, which can lead to heart and blood vessel problems. Excessive production of androgens can also trigger PCOS in women.
Many doctors claim that PCOS runs in families. There are many genes that contribute to this condition.
How PCOS Affects Your Body?
PCOS can affect your fertility and can lead to several other health conditions.
You need to ovulate to get pregnant. Women who do not ovulate on a regular basis do not release as many eggs to be fertilised. Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) is one of the major causes of infertility in women.
2. Sleep Apnea
Women with PCOS are usually obese or overweight. Sleep apnea is a severe health condition that causes repeated pauses in breathing during the night. Women who are obese and have PCOS have a higher risk for sleep apnea than those who don’t have PCOS.
PCOS causes hormonal changes and symptoms like acne, hair loss, and unwanted hair growth that can lower the self-esteem of the person. Many women with PCOS experience depression and anxiety.
4. Metabolic Syndrome
Women with PCOS are generally obese or overweight. Both PCOS and obesity increase your risk for low HDL cholesterol, high blood pressure, high blood sugar, and high LDL cholesterol. These factors are called metabolic syndrome, and they increase the likelihood of developing heart disease, stroke, and diabetes.
5. Endometrial Cancer
When women ovulate, their uterine lining sheds. When women do not ovulate every month, the lining can build up. This thickened uterine lining can increase the chances of developing endometrial cancer.
PCOS causes insulin resistance that increases the chances of developing diabetes.
How is PCOS Diagnosed?
PCOS is diagnosed with the help of certain tests including blood tests, an ultrasound and a pelvic exam. However, doctors first conduct a physical exam to check for signs of excess hair growth, insulin resistance, and acne. They are also likely to have a discussion of the patient’s medical history including weight changes and menstrual periods.
Some of the tests recommended by doctors to diagnose PCOS are
Blood tests are recommended by doctors to measure hormone levels. Blood tests can also be recommended to check cholesterol, insulin, and triglycerides levels in the patient.
An ultrasound is done to check the appearance of ovaries and thickness of the lining of your uterus. An ultrasound uses sound waves to detect abnormal follicles and other problem with uterus and ovaries.
3. A Pelvic Exam
A pelvic exam is done by the doctor to look for any problems with ovaries or other parts of the reproductive tract. In this exam, the doctor manually inspects your reproductive organs for growths, masses or other abnormalities.
If PCOS is diagnosed, your doctor might ask you to go for additional tests. These tests include:
1. Period checks for glucose tolerance, cholesterol, blood pressure, and triglyceride levels.
2. Screening for depression
3. Screening for obstructive sleep apnea
How Is PCOS Treated?
The treatment of PCOS usually focuses on lifestyle changes. It is important to lose weight and eat a healthy diet to treat PCOS.
Specific treatment involves lifestyle changes or medication.
1. Lifestyle Changes
Even if you lose 5 to 10 percent of your body weight, it can help you improve PCOS symptoms. Weight loss can also improve cholesterol levels and reduce the risk of heart disease and diabetes. If you are diagnosed with PCOS, you must eat a low-calorie diet and make sure that you eat loads of fruits and vegetables every day. Doctors advise women with PCOS to eat a low glycemic index (low-GI) diet.
Studies also claim that 30 minutes of exercise at least three days a week can help women with PCOS lose weight. To improve symptoms of PCOS, it is important to lose weight. Hence, doctors advise their patients to make changes in their diet and exercise daily.
Doctors might also recommend birth control pills and other medications to regulate the menstrual cycle and treat symptoms like acne and hair growth.
How To Treat PCOS Naturally?
PCOS can be treated with medications, lifestyle changes and a few natural remedies. Here are the top 10 remedies for PCOS
1.Apple Cider Vinegar
Mix 2 teaspoons of ACV, i.e. apple cider vinegar in a glass of warm water. Drink this in the morning before breakfast.
Apple cider vinegar aids in weight loss which in turn helps control the symptoms of PCOS.
2. Coconut Oil
Consume 1 tablespoon virgin coconut oil every day. Coconut oil contains antioxidants and medium chain fatty acids that help in regulating insulin secretion and blood sugar levels. It also reduces levels of bad cholesterol in the blood, thereby preventing cardiovascular diseases.
Take one glass of water and mix one tablespoon of freshly ground flaxseeds to it. Drink this every day for a few months.
Flaxseed is loaded with fibre that helps lower cholesterol levels. It is also enriched with omega-3 fatty acids that help reduce inflammation and lower blood pressure.
4. Spearmint Tea
Bring one cup of water to boil. Add one teaspoon of dried spearmint leaves. Allow it to simmer for 5 – 10 minutes. Strain and drink this amazing tea two times a day for a few weeks.
Spearmint tea has anti-androgenic properties that help treat PCOS. Spearmint tea is known to reduce hirsutism, by reducing testosterone levels and increasing LH and FSH levels.
5. Green Tea
Prepare one cup of green tea and mix one teaspoon honey in it. Drink this miraculous tea while it is still warm. Drink 2 – 3 cups of green tea every day.
Catechins present in the green tea helps bring down the levels of the hormones that cause ovarian cysts. Green tea contains antioxidants that regulate insulin levels in the body. Drinking green tea on a daily basis also aids weight loss, which in turn helps treat PCOS.
6. Aloe Vera Juice
Drink one glass of aloe vera juice every day to get relief from PCOS symptoms. Aloe vera helps to reduce blood cholesterol and relieve PCOS symptoms.
7. Cumin Seed Powder (Jeera Powder)
Take ½ teaspoon cumin seed powder and mix it with a cup of warm water. Drink this two times a day.
Cumin seed has antioxidant properties that help to reduce blood sugar levels. The antioxidants present in the cumin seeds help remove free radicals from the body.
8. Honey and Cinnamon
Combine one teaspoon each of cinnamon powder and honey. Take this once a day. Cinnamon helps increase insulin sensitivity and burn calories. It also helps in reducing cholesterol levels in the body. Honey contains antioxidants that reduce bad cholesterol levels in the body and aids weight loss.
9. Sesame Seeds and Jaggery
Boil a teaspoon of sesame seeds in a glass of water. Let it boil until the water reduces to half. Strain this and add some jaggery. Drink this once to twice a day.
Sesame seeds contain minerals like zinc, magnesium, and calcium. It contains nutrients that help treat PCOS.
10. Fennel Seeds
Soak two teaspoons fennel seeds in a glass of water. Keep it overnight. In the morning, add a glass of water to this and boil the solution for five minutes. Strain and drink this while it is still warm.
Fennel seeds help decrease male hormones levels in the body, which in turn, help treat PCOS.
11. Holy Basil (Tulsi)
Drink basil tea two times a day to get relief from PCOS symptoms. You can also consume five to eight holy basil leaves every day in the morning.
Holy basil has anti-androgenic properties that help reduce the symptoms of PCOS. It has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that help manage insulin levels.
Obesity is one of the major factors that lead to PCOS. Eat a healthy diet and exercise regularly to keep obesity and PCOS at bay.