60% of women suffering from PCOS manage to become pregnant without any medical assistance
India has witnessed a spike of 30% in PCOS cases in last few years, a trend that got exacerbated due to the lifestyle changes enforced by the pandemic
Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) is the leading cause of female infertility as it is responsible for 85% of ovulatory disorders in women. Yet, 60% of women suffering from PCOS manage to become pregnant without any medical assistance, according to Dr. Vidya V Bhat, Laparoscopic Surgeon and Fertility Specialist and Medical Director of RadhaKrishna Multispecialty Hospital, Bengaluru.
As per the results of a large-scale survey conducted across India in 2020, about 16% of women between 20-29 years suffer from PCOS. “High levels of male sex hormones (androgens) and irregularity in the production of sugar levels in the bloodstream causing insulin resistance adversely affect a woman’s menstrual cycle. This condition can prevent the release of an egg on a regular basis, or even stop it completely, which makes it challenging for patients of PCOS to conceive easily. Sometimes it can even lead to miscarriage,” said Dr. Vidya V Bhat.
Obesity is a common finding in women with PCOS, affecting 40–80% of patients. Other causes include hormonal imbalance, stress levels, lifestyle changes, insulin resistance and metabolic defects. The treatment of PCOS-induced infertility involves monitoring ovulation, surgery for improving fertility, assisted reproductive technology, medications and weight management.
PCOS is a common but serious endocrine disorder in women of reproductive age that can lead to lifelong complications and other serious conditions. Initially, this condition is asymptomatic in young girls, progressing toward menstrual irregularities, obesity, hyper-androgenism in late puberty. Eventually it leads to insulin resistance, hypertension, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular diseases and infertility around middle age. Yet, many women remain unaware that they are suffering from PCOS, according to the doctor.
Of late, this disease is on the rise due to environmental changes as well as lifestyle disorders. India has witnessed a spike of 30 percent in cases of PCOS in the last few years, a trend which got exacerbated due to the lifestyle changes enforced by the pandemic. Being home-bound, lack of exercise, online ordering of junk food, binge watching TV, and irregular sleep patterns have led to an increase in average weight gain among women. This, coupled with ignoring irregular or heavy menstrual cycles in the lockdown period, is driving the spike in PCOS cases.
Said Dr Vidya V Bhat: “Irregular follow-ups with the doctor during the Covid times is leading to an increase in the incidence of PCOS, especially among women who are undergoing treatment for infertility. This disorder is also linked with higher levels of circulating insulin, and there is a spike in the number of diabetic patients during the lockdown. Sedentary lifestyle and becoming a couch-potato are increasing the chances of relapse of PCOS in patients, or the disorder becoming much more severe with increased symptoms.”
PCOS can happen due to causes such as excessive consumption of saturated fat, weight gain, inflammation, chemicals and hormonal imbalance. Lifestyle management is very important for PCOS patients, including regulated diet, physical exercise and management of blood sugar and hypertension.