All you need to know about PCOS from Nagpur dermatologist Dr Tulika Arbat

Dr Tulika Arbat | Sep 16, 2019 13:46

Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a hormonal disorder common among women of reproductive age. Read what Dr Tulika Arbat has to say on the same!
Dr Tulika Arbat

Dr Tulika Arbat from Nagpur is an MD in dermatology. She has specialised in Aesthetic Dermatology and has received training in Lasers from Paris, France.

Bollywood actress Sara Ali Khan, daughter of Saif Ali Khan and Amrita Singh  recently revealed that she suffered from PCOD during her college days. Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) or Poly Cycstic Ovary Disease (PCOD) is the most common reproductive endocrine disease among women of young age. Although this condition has not received much publicity, it impacts many young women. In fact 5-10% of teens and young women have this problem. 

  • What is PCOS?

Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a hormonal disorder common among women of reproductive age. Women with PCOS may have infrequent or prolonged menstrual periods or excess male hormone (androgen) levels. The name ‘poly,’ meaning ‘many,’ and ‘cystic,’ meaning ‘cysts,’ refers to the fact that those with PCOS may have enlarged ovaries that contain many tiny cysts.  Almost one in 10 women are diagnosed with PCOD and PCOS globally and it affects almost 10 million women in the world.

Recently, on a chat show, it was revealed that Sara Ali Khan suffered from PCOD, which added to her rapid weight gain. Working hard to achieve the body she has today, Sara’s makeover from her student days to her starlet days is nothing short of a transformation. However, weight gain is not the only symptom we see in women suffering from PCOS. Here are some other common symptoms which many fail to ignore and put themselves at risk.

PCOS (Photo source: Mayo Clinic)
  • Skin changes due to PCOS

The excessive secretion of androgens in PCOS patients results in a series of skin changes including hirsutism (excess hair growth), acne, seborrhoea (dandruff) and androgenetic alopecia. These all originate in the pilosebaceous unit, the common skin structure that gives rise to both hair follicles and sebaceous glands.

Dermatologists are often on the frontline when it comes to diagnosing polycystic ovary syndrome. About one-quarter of patients who are diagnosed with PCOS are first seen by a dermatologist. 

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  • What are the signs of PCOS?

Young women with PCOS commonly have one or more signs. Some of the most common signs include:

  1. Irregular periods (menstrual cycle) — periods that come every few months, not at all, or too frequently.
  2. Hirsutism — extra hair on the face, chest, back or other parts of the body.
  3. Acne.
  4. Weight gain and/or trouble losing weight, and in some cases, obesity.
  5. Patches of dark skin on the back of the neck and other areas, called acanthosis nigricans.
  6. Infertility or impaired fertility due to irregular periods or lack of ovulation.
  7. Hair thinning (on the top of the head).
  8. Skin tags under the armpits or neck area.
  9. High total cholesterol and/or low High-Density Lipoprotiens (HDL).
  10. High blood pressure.
  11. Pre-diabetes or in some cases, diabetes.


  •  Can you tell if a young woman has PCOS?

If a young woman has irregular periods and symptoms of hyperandrogenism (excess hair, acne, and hair thinning) sometimes referred to as male patterned baldness, documented by elevated serum testosterone, she could have PCOS. If a young woman is distressed about the symptoms she is experiencing, she should see her doctor. Before meeting the doctor, she can keep a log of her menstrual cycles and symptoms. She should bring the log with her when she meets with the doctor.

  • What Causes PCOS?

 It appears to have connections with:

  1. Genetics (family history) – Immediate female relatives (i.e daughters or sisters) of women with PCOS have up to a 50% chance of having PCOS.
  2. Insulin resistance – One of the role of insulin is to keep the levels of glucose in the blood from rising after eating.  If you are insulin resistant, your body doesn’t use the available insulin effectively to help keep your glucose levels stable. Because of this, the body produces more insulin, which increases the production of androgens such as testosterone, in the ovaries leading to excessive hair growth and acne, and can contribute to symptoms such as irregular periods, trouble ovulating, excess hair growth and acne.
  3. Lifestyle or environment – Sedantary lifestyle, junk food consumption, no form of excersice throughout the day leads to weight gain. Being above a healthy weight worsens the symptoms of PCOS.
  4. PCOS treatment focuses on managing your individual concerns, such as infertility, hirsutism, acne or obesity. Specific treatment might involve lifestyle changes or medication.
  • Prevention of PCOS

To help decrease the effects of PCOS, try to make certain lifestyle changes that include:

  • Maintaining a healthy weight – Weight loss can reduce insulin and androgen levels and may restore ovulation.
  • Limiting carbohydrates -Low-fat, high-carbohydrate diets might increase insulin levels. Choose complex carbohydrates, which raise your blood sugar levels more slowly.
  • Being active – Exercise helps lower blood sugar levels. If you have PCOS, increasing your daily activity and participating in a regular exercise program may treat or even prevent insulin resistance and help you keep your weight under control and avoid developing diabetes.

The ideas and information expressed are solely by the columnist and not by Nation Next.

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