PCOS or Polycystic ovarian syndrome is a condition of hormonal imbalance in reproductive women characterized by formation of multiple small fluid filled cysts in the ovaries. Affecting about 10% of the woman worldwide, PCOS presents with irregular menstrual cycle i.e. either infrequent or prolonged menstruation. Biochemical studies will show excess of androgen (male hormones; LH and Testosterone). Other symptoms include weight gain, hirsutism, acne, male pattern of baldness, subfertility etc.
Why PCOS Causes Obesity
The link between PCOS and obesity is somewhat inter connected and complicated. It is like a vicious cycle in which obesity leads to PCOS and PCOS further causes obesity. Women with PCOS become resistant to insulin as a result of excessive production of insulin. This inability of insulin to work on its targeted tissues leads to weight gain and obesity. Similarly women who are already overweight or obese are more likely to face hormonal imbalances leading them towards PCOS. Hyper secretion of insulin causes this weight gain and resistance in obese women which leads to disordered hormone secretion. Hence it can be either way.
In some cases, pre-existing hypothyroidism can relate to PCOS. This occurs as a result of hypothyroidism induced hormonal imbalances leading to formation of cysts in ovaries and anovulation. Reduced function of thyroid gland results in weight gain and obesity is aided by both the leading to decreased basal metabolic rate and PCOS induced insulin resistance. According to researches, hypothyroidism and PCOS are genetically linked in 70% of the cases.
Researcher Dr. Tom Barber from the Oxford Centre for Diabetes, Endocrinology and Metabolism, University of Oxford and Imperial College London mentioned in his research study:
“Polycystic ovary syndrome is an incredibly common condition affecting 1 in 10 women of reproductive age and is a leading cause of infertility. It is a genetic condition and one that is strongly associated with obesity; it is therefore of huge relevance for women given today’s obesity epidemic.
According to a study published in Medical Channel of Reproductive health; “20.7% women of reproductive age group are suffering from PCOS in Pakistan”.
This is quite a high prevalence; major reason is the lack of awareness due to which 50% women suffering from PCOS remain un-diagnosed. Another study published in International Journal of Pharma Research and Health Sciences states that only 10% urban Pakistani women are familiar with PCOS.
Polycystic ovarian syndrome is diagnosed by a series of radiological and biochemical tests which include:
Ultra sound Pelvis
FSH and LH levels
Glucose tolerance test and Fasting Blood sugar.
Once Polycystic Ovarian syndrome is diagnosed, it can be managed conservatively as well as by a medication. Conservative methods are more encouraged in Pakistani society as medications include use of hormones and COCP (contraceptives). The first step of conservative management is weight reduction. For this purpose regular walk and exercise is the best way to control weight gain. Secondly cutting down Carbohydrates and Sugars from diet have shown amazing results in managing both PCOS and PCOS related obesity.
Other important steps in this regard included avoid using reused oil, fried food items, fast food, soft drinks and chocolates. Avoid using processed food, turning towards organic food helps not only in controlling but also in preventing PCOS.