Most of us are aware that a woman’s body secretes mainly two reproductive hormones: estrogen and progesterone. The balanced secretion of these hormones is very vital to a woman’s menstrual cycle as well as her fertility. The ovaries are responsible not only for producing the eggs but also for regulating and synthesizing these two female sex hormones. It is a lesser-known but interesting fact that a woman’s body also produces male hormones called androgen’s, albeit in small measures.
Life can be hard for a woman, especially when there is so much stress to being a multitasker. Often because of stress (and because of genes), a woman suffers from symptoms such as weight gain, hirsutism (read: excess body hair), infertility, and troubles in the monthly menstrual cycle.
It is hard to imagine the plight of a woman, who is expected to look and feel perfect always, silently suffering from obesity and hirsutism. It is even harder, still, for women who suffer from infertility and menstrual issues in a country like India, where such issues are a taboo even in this age. And the culprit behind all of this could very well be a hormonal imbalance.
According to the doctors, ‘polycystic ovary syndrome’ is a condition in which multiple cysts grow on a woman’s ovary, which leads to a hormonal imbalance to occur. The cysts aren’t harmful, but the effects of the hormonal imbalance certainly could cause serious harm to a woman’s image and well-being. It is also very important to treat this condition as it may lead to heart troubles and diabetes in future if left untreated (1).
What Causes PCOS?
According to experts, the cause of this condition is not fully known yet. However, genetics seems to be largely at play, say researchers. It is very likely for women to have PCOS (generally in the age group of 15 to 44 years) if there is a family history of diabetes or irregular menstrual issues (2).
Hence, watch out for these six signs to know if you or your loved one is suffering from this condition.
1. Irregular Periods
Many a times women who suffer from PCOS have less than nine periods in a year, but it is also very likely that some may not have periods at all. However, there are also some cases of women with PCOS who suffer from excessive blood flow during their periods. Bottom line? PCOS can make the already troubled ‘time of your month’ even more aggravating and complicated than it already is (3).
2. Hirsutism: Excessive Body And Facial Hair
No prizes for guessing, but this clearly is the ugliest and, unfortunately, one of the most common signs of PCOS. No woman would ever want to sport a beard or hairy legs, which is truly the worst nightmare any woman can have.
High levels of the male sex hormones, ‘androgens’ are responsible for the production of excessive hair growth on the face, breasts, toes, armpits, and neck region (4). Sometimes the hair growth can be thick and dark, which makes it even more embarrassing.
3. Skin Break Outs Or Acne
Excess production of androgens lead to an oily skin, which, in turn, clubbed with excess hair growth is the breeding ground for pimples. As a consequence, often puss-filled pimples occur on body parts such as the face, neck, arms, and back. The oil and dirt that gets stuck in the hair follicles lead to the ugly pimples. While acne can be because of other reasons too, too many pustules, however, are a sign to watch out for!
4. Excess Weight Gain
According to physicians, PCOS is reported to make it tougher for women to lose weight. The body finds it hard to utilize the hormone ‘insulin,’ which performs the function of breaking down food into sugar and starch. Improper utilization of insulin would hence cause sugar levels to rise in the blood, and that would trigger an excess secretion of androgens. Thus, many women who have PCOS often exhibit male-like characteristics, such as excess belly fat.
If you are facing trouble losing weight, and the fat on your abdominal area is especially stubborn, it is surely a sign to take heed of.
5. Baldness Like In Males
Since PCOS leads to excess secretion of androgens, women often have some physical attributes like males. Apart from excessive hair and fat deposition on the belly region, baldness like that in men is also one of the symptoms of having PCOS. Excessive thinning of hair and balding may not be just another sign to change your hair oil or shampoo, it could also be indicative of PCOS (5).
An excess secretion of the male sex hormone may also cause one to stop ovulating. Often a woman who suffers from PCOS has very heavy, very light or no periods at all. Such kind of imbalance in the ovulation cycle would lead to no or meagre release of eggs, thus affecting fertility. Even if you have none of the symptoms mentioned above but are finding it hard to conceive despite regular unprotected sex, then it is a sign to watch out for.
Being a woman isn’t easy. To keep the crown beaming on our heads we often tend to ignore ourselves amidst the maddening multitasking. PCOS is one such ignored condition which can be quite damaging to a woman’s looks and self-worth. It can also pose serious threats leading to blood sugar and heart issues and that could be lethal. If you are battling with one or more of these symptoms, it is time you look for the right treatment to nip this monster in the bud.