One in five Indian women suffers from PCOS

An increasing number of women in the reproductive age are suffering from a hormonal disorder called Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS). Gynaecologists say more awareness is needed about the condition, that prolongs for a lifetime and can be simply controlled by a proper diet and lifestyle.

An estimated one in five (20%) Indian women suffer from PCOS. If not monitored in time, the condition can have serious health impacts. Gynaecologist Dr. Duru Shah who is also the founder of the PCOS Society of India said PCOS is not a disease, but a condition that can present itself in different ways. “While younger women may suffer from irregular periods, experience hirsutism (unwanted male-pattern hair growth) and obesity, in the slightly older age group, it may lead to infertility, risk of miscarriages and more. Conceiving a baby can be difficult with PCOS,” said Dr. Shah, adding that there is nearly a 40% chance that a female child may develop PCOS if the mother has it.

Women with PCOS are at a high risk of developing diabetes, high blood pressure, and other health complications. “The more peripheral fat one has, more is the hormonal imbalance,” Dr. Anita Soni, a gynaecologist in Powai’s Hiranandani Hospital, said. She said an ideal Body Mass Index (BMI) is 25 but when one is obese, the BMI goes over 27-28 and this becomes alarming. “PCOS is a lifelong health condition but one can control it with proper diet and ideal body weight”, Dr. Soni said, emphasing on a diet with low carbohydrates, high protein, and daily physical exercise.

Experts say most women ignore the common symptoms of PCOS and turn to a doctor only when they face trouble conceiving. According to Dr. Anjali Talwalkar, who has a clinic in Kurla, the incidence of the condition has been increasing every year, yet many women don’t think that it may be PCOS even when they notice symptoms. “They simply attribute it to lifestyle. PCOS does arise out of poor lifestyle habits but it has adverse effects and should be treated. Since it is not life-threatening, people don’t care enough about it,” she said.

Doctors say PCOS is common in women suffering from obesity. “Almost 80% of the PCOS patients are obese,” said Dr. Shah, adding that urban Indian women may be at a higher risk due to their poor lifestyle, eating habits and lack of physical activity.

All you need to know

What is PCOS and how it is determined

Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) is a hormonal disorder in reproductive women. It is a common diagnosis in women presenting with infertility. PCOS is a syndrome, not a disease. It is a lifelong condition that continues far beyond childbearing years


Irregular and delayed periods or no periods because of lack of ovulation

Excess facial hair (hirsutism), acne, thinning scalp hair because of higher levels of male hormones

Multiple small cysts on the ovaries seen in an ultrasound


Obesity (excess weight) due to an unhealthy diet and lack of physical exercise

Family history: women whose mother or sister has PCOS or Type 2 diabetes are more likely to develop PCOS

Insulin resistance (Type 2 diabetes)

It may lead to

• Heavy and painful periods

• Metabolic issues such as diabetes, gestational diabetes (diabetes during pregnancy), heart disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, stroke

• Cancer of the uterus

• Depression and anxiety (though the connection is not fully understood)


• See a gynaecologist if you observe any symptoms, especially irregular or delayed periods

• If you have PCOS, ask the doctor for

getting tested for Type 2 diabetes

• Lose weight if obesity has triggered PCOS

• Eat a balanced, low-carbohydrate, high-protein diet

• Increase physical activity

• Doctor may prescribe medication to help ovulation, reduce acne, hair growth and other symptoms

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Printable version | May 12, 2021 3:01:35 PM |

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