Hyderabad: Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) is being seen in a large number of younger women. If not treated properly, it can cause long-term metabolic effects like development of insulin resistance, diabetes mellitus and cardiovascular diseases.
A recent study published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism states that women with PCOS were diagnosed with diabetes four years earlier than the average age of 35 years.
More than 18,000 participants were studied. The early onset of diabetes in PCOS patients is because the blood sugar levels, triglycerides and body mass index are high, along with the elevated hormones. The irregular menstrual cycle adds to the burden of the body, which in young Indian women is due to a combination of lifestyle and genetics.
Dr Ruma Sinha, senior gynaecologist at Apollo Hospitals, explained, “PCOS is not a disease, but a metabolic malfunction of the body which requires lifestyle changes as the first form of treatment”.
“When a girl starts her cycle it is normal for two to three years, until the PCOS develops. This situation arises because of the change in their lifestyle, where they are sitting all the time. Physical activity is limited and food habits deteriorate, their food includes maximum junk food rather than a healthy diet”.
“The first cure for PCOS is diet and lifestyle changes. If they do not work only then will hormone replacement therapy be given,” Dr Sinha.
But doctors find that patients are not compliant when it comes to diet and lifestyle changes. A senior gynaecologist on condition of anonymity explained, “Young girls from 18 years onwards are coming to us with these problems. As they opt for more classes and have a very stressful academic curriculum, mothers are keen that they just swallow tablets and get cured”.
“When a girl is put through these levels of stress and not allowed to give the body a chance to heal naturally, then the options before doctors are very limited.”
Senior gynaecologists say that many of them insist on medication as they state that there is no time for these activities and lifestyle modification.
Dr Sinha explained, “We do encounter this problem on a daily basis. But insist that they must give it a try, as it is the first line of treatment”. Some parents are supportive and opt for the methods and see the difference. While, those who do not accept or agree, merely hop from one doctor to another.
The emergence of early diabetes is also because in the clinical evaluations it is found that of 100 patients, 98 patients show a history of a family member having diabetes. So, apart from lifestyle factors, genetic predisposition also plays a role.
Lifestyle and diet changes
- Active lifestyle like brisk walking, going to the gym and other physical activities are utmost important
- Sitting for more than two hours at a stretch must be avoided. Take a break every 30 minutes and move around
- Climb steps and avoid elevators
- Do not eat while studying or watching TV or texting
- Keep a gap of one hour between eating and sleeping
- Diet must involve healthy and balanced food
- Avoid processed fruit juices and opt for natural seasonal fruits.
- Food rich in fibre to manage sugar levels, which helps manage blood sugar levels.
- Gynacs say that family plays a key role in PCOS
PCOS cases in India go unreported: Doctorss
The incidence of PCOS is 9.13 per cent in India, but gynaecologists state that this figure is understated.
“The incidence of PCOS in medical books is given as 15 per cent, but in practice we are now seeing many young women complaining of the problem”, said Dr Manjula Anagani, a senior gynaecologist.
“It is important to diagnose the disease clinically. Often mothers start treatment based on a diagnosis by ultrasound which is wrong,” she said, The factors for PCOS have to be established like a heavy menstrual cycle and skipping of the cycle for three to four months, growth of abnormal facial hair, acne and weight gain.
PCOS-obese is very common in Indian women. It is a vicious cycle of hormonal changes where small cysts develop in the ovary.
When this happens the first complaint is acne, abnormal hair growth on the sides of the face, chin and back. Younger women are coming to clinical establishments for diagnosis early, but compliance levels are very poor, state doctors.
Another senior gynaecologist said, “Many of them are of the opinion that the tablet must solve the problem. The required effort from them is missing. They require a lot of family support in terms of motivation, diet and physical activities.