Updated September 15th, 2023 at 21:50 IST

PCOS Awareness Month 2023: Common signs, symptoms to look out for

September is PCOS Awareness Month. Learn about PCOS symptoms, risks and how and when to seek medical assistance.

Reported by: Simple Vishwakarma
PCOS affects women's hormonal balance, fertility, and overall health | Image: Shutterstock | Image:self
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Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) is a prevalent but often underdiagnosed hormonal disorder affecting millions of women. With September being PCOS Awareness Month, it is crucial to shed light on this condition and the signs and symptoms that individuals should be vigilant about.

2 things you need to know

  • Early diagnosis helps manage symptoms and reduce associated risks.
  • Lifestyle changes and medical treatments can help in PCOS management.

What is PCOS?

PCOS is a complex hormonal disorder that impacts the ovaries, leading to a variety of symptoms. While the precise cause remains uncertain, a combination of genetic and environmental factors is believed to contribute to its development. Dr Pradeep Mahajan, a regenerative medicine researcher, explains, "PCOS is characterised by the presence of multiple small cysts on the ovaries, irregular menstrual cycles, and an imbalance in sex hormones such as oestrogen and testosterone."

(There are various symptoms of PCOS | Image: Shutterstock)

Recognising symptoms

Dr. Surabhi Siddhartha, Consultant Obstetrician and gynaecologist, highlights the common signs and symptoms of PCOS that individuals should be aware of.

Irregular menstrual cycles

One of the hallmark signs of PCOS is irregular or absent menstrual periods. Women with PCOS may experience infrequent, heavy or prolonged periods.

Excessive hair growth

PCOS can lead to hirsutism, causing excess hair growth on the face, chest, back or other areas where men typically grow hair. This is due to elevated androgens (male hormones) in the body.

Acne and oily skin

Elevated androgens can also result in acne and oily skin, often persistent and resistant to typical treatments.

Weight gain or difficulty in losing weight

Many individuals with PCOS struggle with weight gain and find it challenging to shed excess pounds. This can exacerbate other symptoms and increase the risk of other health issues.

Hair thinning

While some experience excess hair growth, others may suffer from hair thinning or hair loss in the scalp. This is known as alopecia.

Pelvic pain

Some individuals with PCOS experience pelvic pain, often due to the presence of ovarian cysts.

Difficulty in conceiving

PCOS is a leading cause of infertility. Irregular ovulation and hormonal imbalances can make it challenging to conceive.

Skin discoloration

Darkening of the skin, particularly around the neck, groin or under the breasts, is a common symptom. This condition is called acanthosis nigricans.

Mood changes

Hormonal fluctuations in PCOS can lead to mood swings, anxiety, or depression.

High blood pressure and diabetes

PCOS is associated with an increased risk of developing high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes.

Early diagnosis and management

Dr Pradeep Mahajan emphasises the importance of early diagnosis and proper management. "PCOS is a complex and often frustrating condition to manage, but early diagnosis and proper management can make a significant difference in the lives of those affected," he says. Increased awareness, education, and support are essential steps toward improving the lives of individuals with PCOS and working toward a healthier future.

As we observe PCOS Awareness Month, it is crucial for individuals experiencing these symptoms to seek medical advice promptly. With the right diagnosis and personalised treatment plan, individuals can better manage their condition and lead healthier lives.

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Published September 15th, 2023 at 21:50 IST