The month of September, and specifically 1 September, are dedicated to raising awareness about a disorder that several women face, called polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). One in every ten women are thought to be affected by Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, which is among the most common hormonal disorders that affects women.
PCOS is a serious genetic, hormonal, metabolic and reproductive disorder, pcoschallenge.org says. The leading cause of female infertility, it also leads to obesity, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and endometrial cancer.
The PCOS Awareness Month aims to “improve the lives of those affected by PCOS and to help them to overcome their symptoms as well as prevent and reduce their risks for life-threatening related diseases such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease and cancer,” as per the website.
PCOS affects a woman’s ovaries that produce estrogen and progesterone. These are the hormones that regulate the menstrual cycle. Ovaries also produce a tiny amount of male hormones called androgens. However, if a cyst gets formed in the ovaries due to the overproduction of androgen hormones, it leads to the woman getting diagnosed with PCOS.
According to a report by Voyage Healthcare, as many as 40 percent of women diagnosed with PCOS also suffer from depression and self-esteem issues, due to the bodily changes that come with the disorder and the higher risk of infertility. Other symptoms of PCOS include weight gain, acne, unwanted hair growth, thinning of hair on the head, dark patches on the skin and ovarian cysts.
According to the report, there are three main hormones that can cause PCOS. Firstly, insulin allows the body to absorb glucose into cells to produce energy, but PCOS affects this process and can cause more androgens to be produced. The increased production of androgens or male hormones causes acne and unwanted hair. Lack of progesterone hormones also leads to irregular periods.
According to a report in National Today, the earliest published description of a person with PCOS was in 1721. It was described by an Italian scientist Antonio Vallisneri. The condition was subsequently described for the first time in 1935 by American gynaecologists Irving F. Stein, Sr. and Michael L. Leventhal.
The importance of Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome Awareness Month lies in the fact that it tells people that PCOS is manageable through lifestyle changes and medications. It also creates awareness that diet is perhaps the best form of treatment of PCOS. Reducing the intake of simple carbohydrates, coupled with successful weight loss is the best way to restore normal menstruation. Finally, the day aims to enlighten women that birth control is the most common PCOS treatment for women who don’t want to get pregnant.