scorecardWeight gain during the pandemic is increasing the incidence of PCOS in women
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Weight gain during the pandemic is increasing the incidence of PCOS in women

Weight gain during the pandemic is increasing the incidence of PCOS in women
LifeScience3 min read
Representative image    Pixabay
  • Doctors and experts believe that an unhealthy lifestyle, triggered largely by the pandemic, is the major cause behind this spurt.
  • PCOS is an endocrine condition that causes hormone imbalances in the female reproductive system.
  • According to a study by Plum, an employee health insurance platform, one in five women in India suffers from PCOS.
The number of women suffering from polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) and polycystic ovary disorder (PCOD) has been increasing across the country. During the pandemic, a lack of physical activity and the resultant unhealthy lifestyle has caused a spurt in the incidence of this disease, say doctors.

“If you look at the basic causes, lack of exercise and weight gain are the main causes for both. During the pandemic, physical activities had been curtailed a lot and I have seen patients who have put on 15-20 kilos during these two years,” Dr Mini Nampoothiri, consultant at Apollo Hospitals in Navi Mumbai, told Business Insider India.

PCOS is an endocrine condition that causes an hormonal imbalance in the female reproductive system. As a result, ovaries swell in size and tiny cysts are created that contain immature eggs. It’s one of the most common causes of infertility in India.

One woman in five suffers from PCOS

The month of September is marked as PCOS awareness month. According to a study by employee health insurance platform Plum, one woman in five suffers from PCOS in India.

Women with PCOS also battle with issues such as hair loss, acne, facial hair, weight gain, irregular menstruation cycle and excess bleeding in certain cases. Around 80% of women have faced the problem of infertility as well due to PCOS, the report says.

However, PCOS is different from PCOD even though both conditions cause irregular or scanty cycles with defective ovulation. In PCOD, only the ovaries are affected, and immature eggs are not produced.

PCOS-affected women experience more changes caused by hormonal imbalance. “We call it Syndrome X, where patients have diabetes and hypertension too. The long-term consequence of PCOS is excessive thickening of the inner lining of the uterus, which can lead to endometrial cancer in the long run. To conclude, people with PCOS have PCOD anyways, but we say only PCOS,” Dr Nampoothiri further explained.

Most cases seen in teenagers

According to Dr Gayathri D Kamath, senior consultant - obstetrics and gynecology, Fortis Hospitals in Bangalore, the age profile of patients is getting younger. Majority of the cases being reported recently are in the age group of 15-35 years.

However, the condition can set in at any age after puberty, at around 13-14 years. The only way to treat this condition is to reduce body weight.

“Exercise, weight loss and proper diet are the primary modalities of treatment. Even a 5% weight loss does wonders in terms of treatment. Medicines are given to regularise cycles, but they are not of much use unless lifestyle alterations are made too,” Dr Nampoothiri said.

Patients also have to stick to the treatment regime strictly, say doctors.

“Second treatment can be through insulin sensitizers to control hormones. Sometimes to control hormones, oral contraceptive pills can be given. If someone has facial hair, then local treatment like laser treatment should be done,” Dr Ranjana Sharma, senior consultant at Indraprastha Apollo Hospitals said.