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PCOS- The new lifestyle disease that takes away your beauty
Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) is the most common lifestyle disease in women of reproductive age. The incidence of this endocrine abnormality is ever-increasing in women, the world over. It affects not just a woman's menstrual cycle, fertility, hormones and appearance but also her overall health, increasing risk for diabetes and heart diseases.

Incidences of this disease which steals away women?s beauty and confidence, has gone up from 10 percent in the last decade, to about 35 percent.

Symptoms of PCOS may include:

- Increased growth of hair on the face, chest, stomach and back

- Irregular or no menstrual cycle

- Infertility or inability to get pregnant

- Acne, oily skin or dandruff

- Deepening voice

- Weight gain or obesity

- Type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure

- Male-pattern baldness/thinning hair

- Patches of thickened and dark brown or black skin on the neck, arms, breasts or thighs

- Skin tags or tiny excess flaps of skin in the armpits or neck area

- Sleep apnea or excessive snoring

Health checks and investigations show hormonal imbalance with high levels of male hormones and fluid filled small cysts/follicles in ovaries. If, left untreated, PCOS increases a woman?s risk for ailments like diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, breast and uterine cancer. 

Women with PCOS are at risk for infertility, complications of pregnancy or miscarriage. Dr. Renu Raina Sehgal, Sr. Consultant Obstetrics & Gynecology ? Artemis Hospital, Gurgaon says, ''PCOS incidences are getting higher in India, especially among adolescent girls; approximately 20-30% of teenage girls who come to us for consultation, suffer from PCOS.''

Although the exact cause of PCOS is not known, it has been noted that it runs in the family, especially with history in diabetes; often it is linked with obesity as most of the women with PCOS are overweight. There is no single test to diagnose PCOS, however, various diagnostic tools which include medical history, Body Mass Index (BMI) measurement, ultrasound and lab tests (PCOS Lab Panel) are taken into action.

PCOS has several psychological components too, that need to be integrated in treating this syndrome. "Women may begin to feel very conscious about hair growth and this can even lead to diminished self-image (I'm not beautiful). Some women fear that they will not be able to conceive and thus be labeled as "infertile'' which leads to depression and low self esteem", says Dr. Prachi, Consultant Clinical Psychology ? Artemis Hospital, Gurgaon.

Understanding how a woman feels about her body and improving this perception are vital to those who provide complete health care to women with PCOS.

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