Dr Meghana Kulkarni, is an Infertility consultant, practising in Navi Mumbai for the past 24 years. She is an M.D. Gynaecologist and Obstetrician trained in fertility practices with Dr Mehroo Hansotia and Dr Indira Hinduja. She is currently practising at Ameya Mother & Child Care Clinic and Infertility Centre in Panvel, Navi Mumbai.
What is PCOS?
Dr Kulkarni begins, “We must first understand what is PCOS and what are the symptoms that suggest one might be suffering from it. With our current and changed lifestyle, we eat unhealthy foods and suffer from environmental stress. Due to these factors, the current generation is suffering more from PCOS compared to the previous generation.”
“The intake of junk food has considerably increased. I recall that during my time there was no access to such foods. The current generation is more exposed to hotels and cafes making them more inclined to eat such foods. There is also a lack of exercise in such people. These factors affect our body and particularly our hormones that control our menstrual cycle.”
“This is the prime cause of seeing an increased number of adolescent girls suffering from PCOS. They experience no periods for 2 to 3 months of stretch due to the unregulated secretion of hormones. Such hormones through our blood reach the ovaries and regulate our periods and other things.”
“The first symptom of PCOS is that patients have irregular periods.
The second factor is that their weight increases.
The third symptom is the breakout of acne and pimples.
The last symptom is the fluctuation of sugar levels.”
“We also see that when people have regular periods (monthly), their egg gets prepared on the 15th or 16th day. Then when the egg doesn’t get fertilised, the body gets its period. This is a monthly cycle. With PCOS women, the egg doesn’t get prepared which stops the further cycle of periods. When the egg does get prepared though, there are times when the period bleeding happens up to 15 to 16 days.”
Treating PCOS from Home
Dr Kulkarni says, “Few things these people can do is to change their lifestyle. This generation should first take care of their diet. They should avoid oily, junk and sugary food. They should note if they have an irregular sleeping schedule. One should maintain a sound sleep for 8 hours. Exercise for 45 minutes is a must. People who have desk jobs, sit for 8 to 9 hours a day. Just sitting and sleeping all day will not help your body. This will cause the calories to be stored within the body as fat. This will start a vicious cycle where the fat will affect the hormonal level which in turn will cause weight gain.”
Exercise for 45 minutes daily
8 hours of sound and regular sleep
A healthy diet full of green vegetables
Sun exposure for Vitamin D
Eat Indian meal - Dal, Roti, Sabji & Rice
“If there is diabetes history in the family, then the chance of having PCOS is high in the next generation. So maintain more caution and follow a healthy diet, reduce your stress levels and engage in exercise.”
PCOS and Pregnancy
Dr Kulkarni explains, “As I have already said there is difficulty in the egg getting ready. But in PCOS there is a spectrum that ranges from mild PCOS to severe PCOS. In the latter case, the person wouldn’t even get their period without taking a tablet. Also, people whose weight is around 80 to 90 KG will face many problems.”
“In mild PCOS where the women get her period in 1.5 months and are only slightly overweight, then they can get pregnant. The problem of getting pregnant comes when the person shows severe symptoms of getting no period, are overweight and where the thyroid gets affected. These women need to take the treatment along with changing their lifestyle. By simply following a healthy lifestyle, there is an improvement of 40 to 50%.”
Pregnancy complication with PCOS
Dr Kulkarni advises, “Compared to a normal egg, the PCOS woman’s egg might sometimes not have the capacity to carry a healthy pregnancy. Many a time, the patient suffer from abortion as the egg cannot produce a healthy baby. Apart from the egg problem, the PCOS patient also has the problem of blood supply. There are times when the blood doesn’t reach the womb.”
“Being overweight also causes atherosclerosis or the buildup of fat in the blood vessels. This causes a high risk of blood clots during pregnancy. The blockage in the placenta can also cause the death of the baby. Due to this clotting, we have also seen that the child’s heartbeat has stopped in the 3rd month of pregnancy.”
“It is also possible that due to low blood supply, the baby can be underweight. Since the placenta is not working there is a chance of early delivery. The problem of PCOS is related to our insulin resistance. A certain amount of insulin is needed to digest our food. In PCOS, we have insulin resistance. This causes the level of insulin to rise in the blood which causes diabetes in pregnancy.”
PCOS’s effect after Menopause
Dr Kulkarni mentions, “Menopause means that the body no longer produces the egg. Women already suffering from PCOS will not revert back. Their lipid count, weak bones, atherosclerosis and affect on the heart will not go back to normal. Despite no longer getting your period, the changes will not go back to normal unless a lifestyle change is implemented. Your ability to get periods stops but your metabolic changes remain.”
(Edited by Priyal Shah)