Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), commonly known as polycystic ovary disease (PCOD), ovarian hyperthecosis, functional ovarian hyperandrogenism, Stein-Leventhal syndrome and sclerocystic ovary syndrome, is one among the most common endocrine disorders associated with hormonal imbalance affecting women of age group between 12-45 years. PCOS is considered to be complex disorder which may be heterogeneous in terms of symptoms but its etiology usually remains unknown.
Causes and Hormonal changes associated with PCOS:
Although the cause of PCOS is unknown, there are evidence-based results to confirm that it may occur due to genetic cause. Also excess body weight/obesity may act as a triggering factor for the inception of PCOS.
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Polycystic ovary is generally characterized by occurrence of more number of ovarian eggs on the surface which looks like multiple cysts. PCOS causes fluctuations in levels of certain hormones as follows:
* Oestrogen and progesterone are the hormones responsible for egg release from ovaries. Imbalance of these hormones in PCOS causes hindrance in ovarian egg release.
* Androgen is the male hormone which will be found in minimal amounts in women. In PCOS, the ovaries secrete more androgen than usual.
* Insulin is the hormone responsible for maintaining proper blood glucose levels. In PCOS, insulin resistance may occur and blood glucose may elevate which may lead to diabetes mellitus.
Signs and symptoms:
PCOS is associated with a diverse range of symptoms with varying degree of severity which may affect reproductive, metabolic and endocrine functions of women. Following are some of the symptoms which may be linked with occurrence of PCOS.
* Menstrual disorders:
1. Oligomenorrhea- Infrequent or light menstrual periods.
2. Amenorrhea- Absence of menstrual periods.
3. Hypermenorrhea- Heavy/ prolonged menstrual periods.
This may happen in women with PCOS because of lack of proper ovulation/ release of eggs.
* Weight related issues:
Abnormal weight gain may occur along with occurrence of PCOS. Other way round, in some cases excess weight may be a triggering cause of PCOS.
* Acne (skin problem), alopecia (loss of hair) and additional thicker and darker hair growth on the face and body may occur as PCOS occurs.
* Psychological disturbances like depression and anxiety.
Nutritional Management of PCOS:
Since PCOS is associated with obesity/ weight gain, the main aim of dietary modification would focus on weight management. Following are some of the points which should be focused in management of PCOS:
* Foods high in carbohydrates like starchy foods (rice, roots and tubers), refined cereals (like maida) contain more calories and so should be restricted since they may lead to weight gain.
* Intake of high fat foods like deep-fried items (like french fries), high cholesterol foods (like red-meat) and high sugary foods (like sweets, chocolates) should be avoided since such foods inhibit weight loss.
* High fiber foods (like whole grains, green leafy vegetables) should be included in large quantities in order to maintain blood glucose and cholesterol levels under control.
* Physical activity must be a part of daily routine and remaining active throughout the day is also very important.
PCOS being a disorder associated mainly with excessive weight gain and hormone fluctuation in women can be managed with a strict diet plan. However, appropriate nutrient rich food intake in required quantities with a proper lifestyle would help in fighting against the severity of PCOS.
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