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Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS): Symptoms, Causes, Treatment & Diet

Updated: Feb 10, 2023

PCOS, also known as polycystic ovary syndrome, is a medical condition in which the ovaries in the female body produce an abnormal amount of androgens. Androgen is a male sex hormone that can develop and maintain masculine characteristics in reproductive tissues, though it is typically present in minimal quantities in a female body. A woman with PCOS is more likely to have many cysts, which are fluid-filled sacs in her ovaries.

While some women without the condition may develop cysts, in some cases, women with this condition do not.


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How did PCOS develop?

How did PCOS develop?

When a mature egg is released from the ovary, ovulation usually follows. After the egg is released, it travels down the fallopian tube and remains there for 12 to 24 hours, where it can be fertilised. When the egg is not fertilised, it is sent out of a female's body during menstruation. In some cases, women might not make enough hormones needed for ovulation.

Women with PCOS have high levels of androgen hormones, which can cause many other disruptions and irregularities in a woman's menstrual cycle. Even though PCOS can frequently be treated with medication and appropriate lifestyle changes, there is currently no known permanent cure for this condition.

What causes PCOS?

What causes PCOS?

Although the precise cause of PCOS is still not fully understood, some factors may contribute to the onset of this condition.

1. Insulin resistance:

In most PCOS patients, if not all, then at least in some cases, insulin resistance is thought to be one of the fundamental physiological imbalances. This happens when your pancreas responds to high blood sugar levels by producing increasingly more insulin. By storing the glucose in your cells, insulin lowers your blood sugar levels. More signals must be sent to the cells to lower blood sugar because they become resistant to regular insulin.

When this resistance persists, blood sugar and insulin levels are elevated. Since the ovaries will produce more testosterone due to the high insulin levels, there will be an increase in androgen levels, which is why many women with PCOS experience symptoms like dark hair on their faces and bellies. Dark, velvety patches of skin in the armpits, groin, or under the breasts are additional common indicators of insulin resistance. Other symptoms could include a greater appetite and weight gain.

2. Low-grade inflammation:

According to research, polycystic ovaries produce more androgens due to chronic low-grade inflammation, which causes heart and blood vessel issues. Such persistent inflammation can be brought on by an unhealthy lifestyle that includes smoking, a bad diet, drinking, being sedentary, stress, and weight gain. Low-grade inflammation has also been associated with critical contributing factors for Polycystic Ovary Syndrome.

3. Genetics:

According to research, there is a chance you will get PCOS if your family has a history of the condition. Therefore, your risk of developing PCOS is frequently increased if your family members, such as your mother, sister, or aunt, have a history of this condition.

4. Excess androgen:

If your body produces a lot of androgens, your ovaries have a high chance of developing PCOS. High levels of these hormones consequently affect ovulation, which interferes with your regular menstrual cycle. Acne and hirsutism are other symptoms of excess androgen.

PCOS symptoms

PCOS symptoms

PCOS symptoms could include,

  • Missed periods, irregular cycles, or exceptionally light cycles

  • Large ovaries or ovaries with many cysts

  • Excessive body hair, especially on the back, stomach, and chest

  • Gaining weight, especially around the abdomen

  • Oily skin or acne

  • Baldness with a male pattern or thinning hair

  • Infertility

  • Small bits of extra skin on the neck or under the arms

  • Patches of thick or dark skin under the breasts, in the armpits, and on the back of the neck

PCOS treatments

PCOS treatments

While not curable, PCOS can be managed properly. As each person's symptoms and goals differ from person to person, it is crucial to get a personal check done by healthcare professionals. Talk to your doctor or consult with us if you want a detailed treatment plan. For example, if you are trying to get pregnant and having a hard time doing so. Getting help from a doctor can gear you up for your goals with their expertise and treatment. However, there are some standard options that you can include in your routine to balance the hormone and lower your odds of having long-term health problems such as diabetes and heart disease.

1. Lifestyle changes:

Eating well and exercising frequently are two of the best and most effective changes you can make to manage your condition. Because being overweight or obese is one of the most typical symptoms of PCOS in women. Reducing your weight by at least 5 to 10% can help regulate your menstrual cycle, which will lessen PCOS symptoms. Limiting starchy and sugary foods can aid in lowering insulin levels, which are a significant factor in developing PCOS. Increase your intake of fibre-rich foods to manage your insulin levels.

2. Birth control pills:

Birth control pills are the most popular PCOS treatment and the best choice for women who don't want to get pregnant. Birth control pills can help reduce acne, lower androgen levels, and restore regular menstrual cycles.

3. Medications to treat additional symptoms:

You can lessen PCOS symptoms like acne and hair growth by taking medications. Taking medications on your own without consulting a doctor is not advised, so always remember to do so.

What a PCOS diet looks like

What a PCOS diet looks like

According to research, PCOS is significantly influenced by what we eat.

Although there is no regular diet for PCOS, healthcare professionals with expertise in this area can assist you in creating one that is primarily based on your goals or any changes you wish to make.

However, there is a common list of foods you can include and avoid in your diet to manage PCOS, even though there is no universal diet chart.

Foods to include

1. High-fiber vegetables

  • Broccoli

  • Cauliflower

  • Cabbage

  • Beans and lentils

  • Berries

  • Nuts and seeds

  • Sweet potatoes

  • Pumpkin

2. Lean protein

  • Tofu

  • Chicken

  • Fish

3. Anti-inflammatory food:

  • Tomatoes

  • Spinach

  • Almonds and walnuts

  • Strawberries

  • Olive oil

  • Blueberries

Foods to avoid

1. High refined carbohydrates foods:

  • White bread

  • Muffins

  • Pastries

  • Sugary desserts

  • Burger

  • Pizza

  • Noodles

  • Breakfast cereals

  • Pasta

2. Sugary snacks and drinks:

  • Soda

  • Flavoured juice

  • Energy drink

  • Sweetened tea/coffee

  • Sports drink

3. Inflammatory foods:

  • Fries

  • Margarine

  • Red meats

When should you see a doctor?

You should seek medical attention if you have any PCOS symptoms, such as missed or irregular periods, excessive hair growth, acne, or weight gain. With a team of expert gynaecologists and cutting-edge facilities, we are regarded as one of the best gynaecology hospitals in Pune. Polaris Hospital prioritises the well-being of its patients and employs some of the best medical specialists to determine the best treatment options and assist you in managing PCOS effectively.


About The Author: Dr. Ujwala Patil

Dr. Ujwala Patil provides specialist advice in gynecology and obstetrics. She is the founder of Polaris Health Care and is an experienced gynecologist. She completed her M.B.B.S. from the renowned B.J. Medical College, Pune, has undergone F.O.G.S.I. training in Infertility and is certified in Cervical cytology and colonoscopy. She has also been empaneled as a gynecologist at Surya and Life point hospitals. She has handled many high-risk obstetric cases and has conducted more than 1000 deliveries. Her expert advice dipped in care is accessible to women from all walks of life.


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