Long term health complications of polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS)
Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) is the most common health complication among women. It is considered as a gynaecological condition. Evidences and knowledge about this condition is evolving rapidly. It is estimated that 10% of women of reproductive age suffer from PCOS.
PCOS may lead to serious long-term health complications such as endometrial cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and metabolic syndrome if not managed well.
Read on to know about these complications and how to prevent them.
- Endometrial Cancer
In women with PCOS intervals of more than three months between menstruation may be associated with endometrial cancer. The endometrium is exposed to hormones like estrogen, which make the lining to proliferate and thicken, during a normal menstrual cycle. Due to PCOS, ovulation does not occur, and the lining is not shed. In this condition, the lining is exposed to higher amounts of estrogen than before causing the endometrium to grow thicker than normal. This leads to increase in the growth of cancer cells. Restoring hormonal balance and maintaining a regular menstrual cycle is very important in managing PCOS. A healthy diet, weight loss and exercise can help.
Women with PCOS have insulin resistance frequently, which means that their body resists to use glucose properly resulting in more insulin production and increase in glucose levels. This consistent high levels of glucose in the blood can lead to diabetes overtime!
- Heart Disease
PCOS can increases a woman’s risk of getting heart-related complications. This is because of the high insulin levels that have been linked with PCOS. And this is known to increase one’s risk for inflammatory markers, high triglycerides, blood pressure, and atherosclerosis. These conditions can increase your chances of a heart attack and stroke.
- Metabolic syndrome
Metabolic Syndrome, or call it Syndrome X, is a group of commonly occurring risk factors, which usually occur together and increase the risk for cardiovascular disease. Here are some most common metabolic changes associated with this syndrome:
- High blood pressure
- Increased abdominal weight
- High levels of triglycerides.
- High fasting blood sugar
- Low levels of good cholesterol, or HDL
Women with PCOS are at a high risk for this cluster of complicated conditions due to its association with insulin resistance and obesity.
- Ovarian cancer
Several evidence and debates have been suggesting that there is a link between Polycystic ovarian syndrome and increased risk of ovarian cancer. The risk appears to be increased in women with multiple ovulations, early menarche and late menopause. Although women with PCOS have low risk for developing ovarian cancer due to their life time reduced ovulation rate, by using ovulation induction treatments can technically create an imbalance to their possibility for ovarian cancer.
How to reduce the risk of such Complications?
The first and foremost things you can do to prevent the increased risk for complications in PCOS is to make positive changes in your diet and exercise. Despite all these risks, it is preventable. Try consulting a good nutritionist to help you. And start with a commitment to walk atleast 30 minutes a day. Adding just a little bit of activities each week can be helpful.
Checking your blood at least annually will help you to detect your risk factors. Talk with your doctor about what medications or supplements may help prevent your risk factors. Be proactive with your health as it is the only key to take control over PCOS before it controls you.
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