PCOS Condition – Experts acknowledge that both ovarian-related and non-ovarian-related factors play an important role in the manifestation of the disease, however, they are yet to know which factors initiate the disorder and which symptoms are the secondary consequences

The current treatment options for PCOS are aimed at the management of symptoms rather than treating the underlying cause

Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) has become a silent epidemic among many women in their reproductive years. Even with a lot of research being done in the area, not much is known about its causes. The disorder is usually diagnosed on basis of the observed symptoms. The disorder is linked to other medical conditions such as insulin resistance, type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and others. Experts are still not sure which of these conditions is the prime initiator of the disorder. With more and more young women being affected by the condition, the focus is more on managing the symptoms rather than curing them.

Simran Rao, a woman in her early twenties was diagnosed with the condition three years back. Her most obvious symptom was irregular to no periods at all. Initially, Rao was prescribed a birth control pill that was effective in regularizing her periods. However, the moment she used to stop consuming the pill, she would find her condition back at square one. Later, on changing her attending gynecologist, she was put on some hormonal medicines that came with their own set of troubles. The medicine prescribed to Rao is used to regulate her blood pressure and other metabolic parameters. This time the treatment wasn’t just through a reproductive lens.

She said: “These medicines came with their side effects. After taking them for two to three months, my health deteriorated. I started having cycles every 15 days accompanied by extreme mood swings. I had severe dehydration as well. The doctor did not inform me that the medicine had to be taken no more than a month”.

Many like Rao receive a wide range of treatments for the condition and these treatments target various aspects of the disorder. However, there is no cure for the condition.

Reproductive or metabolic?

For quite some time, the disorder has been viewed as a reproductive ailment with the ovaries in affected women producing an excess amount of androgens (male hormones) and the presence of small fluid-filled cysts that could be spotted. Affected women are seen facing difficulty with ovulation, resulting in irregular or no periods at all. Experts acknowledge that both ovarian-related and non-ovarian-related factors play an important role in the manifestation of the disease, however, they are yet to know which factors initiate the disorder and which symptoms are the secondary consequences. As a result, the current treatment options for PCOS are aimed at the management of symptoms rather than treating the underlying cause.

PCOS in men? Might be more than a reproductive concern

Yes, you heard it right. Recent studies have shown that some men are also exhibiting an equivalent form of PCOS. These men are mostly from families that have a PCOS history. Male PCOS is characterized by the onset of androgenetic alopecia (baldness), hypertrichosis, and similar metabolic disturbances. As per experts, since males do not have ovaries, it could mean that the disorder is not just a reproductive concern but rather a cardiometabolic condition that is affecting both sexes. Experts believe that once they find the root cause of the disorder, individualized treatments could be figured out for both sexes. However, studies are showing that the disorder is causing metabolic concerns like insulin resistance and making one prone to cardiovascular issues, which could also mean that the disorder might be ovary-independent.

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