PCOS Awareness Month: An Examination of the Early Signs and Symptoms of PCOS and Ways to Address Them
Representing an effort to increase awareness and understanding of Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS), the month of September marks PCOS Awareness Month. Furthermore, this month also observes World PCOS Day of Unity, an event coordinated by the PCOS Challenge – The National Polycystic Ovary Syndrome Association. This global observance serves as a timely reminder of PCOS’s status as the leading cause of female infertility worldwide.
The World Health Organization estimates that PCOS affects approximately 8-13% of women of reproductive age, with up to 70% of affected women remaining undiagnosed. Characterized by an overproduction of male hormones and the presence of cysts in the ovaries, PCOS presents an array of early signs that can help detect the condition.
Shikha Gupta, a Functional Hormonal Health Nutritionist recently highlighted some common symptoms of PCOS on Instagram. Gupta emphasizes that detecting this condition early, using its telltale symptoms, can help prevent complications while stressing that blood reports don’t always show clear signs of PCOS.
Early indicators of PCOS can include:
- Heavy, irregular menstruation
- Short or light menstruation
- Spotting between periods
- Development of dark patches on the skin, particularly around the neck
- Oily, acne-prone skin
- Unwanted facial hair or excessive body hair growth
- Loss of scalp hair
- High insulin levels
- Frequent mood swings
- Difficulty losing weight
- Water retention before menstrual periods
- Sweet cravings before or during menstrual periods
Gupta advises that, instead of normalizing these symptoms, those who experience any of these signs should act promptly.
Dr. Chitwan Dubey, consultant obstetrics gynecologist and laparoscopic surgeon at Dr. LH Hiranandani Hospital, Powai, Mumbai, agrees with Gupta. She adds that prior to a formal PCOS diagnosis, your body may exhibit signs such as irregular periods, unexpected hair growth, acne, and sudden weight gain that could indicate the presence of PCOS.
In case these symptoms are noticed, Dr. Dubey recommends visiting a gynecologist. Physical examinations, blood tests to check hormonal levels, and ultrasounds to check for cysts in the ovaries may be required for a formal diagnosis. She further suggests that managing PCOS can often entail lifestyle changes like regular exercise, a balanced diet as well as medical interventions such as hormonal birth control and fertility treatments.
The awareness gained from recognizing the early signs of PCOS during this awareness month underscores the importance of taking action swiftly. With the right medical assistance and a proactive approach to healthcare, managing PCOS can become a far less daunting task.