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I am back in India for my vacation and this is my first editorial article for IMBB and Rati Beauty App. In this editorial article, I will be talking about PCOS or PCOD (Polycystic Ovary Syndrome/Disease). There are other editorials about PCOS on IMBB and Sam did a very detailed video about it on the app. The reason I chose to write this editorial was because I see a lot of misinformation amongst the Indian population when it comes to this syndrome and as a biologist, I thought I should do my bit.
Full disclaimer: I am not a gynaecologist. I am just someone with a basic understanding of endocrinology (the study of hormones and their signalling pathways) and I have been with diagnosed with PCOS. So, sit back and enjoy the ride.
1. Understand that Reproductive Organs are Liable to Disease Just as any Other Organs in Your Body:
This is a very simple statement but there is still a taboo around reproductive health, especially when it comes to women. Even the educated people shy away from discussing reproductive health. This is quite dis-heartening and we need to normalise talking about reproductive health. Listen to your body and never ignore any problems especially when it comes to your reproductive cycle. As women, we are taught that tolerating pain is a marker for our strength and unfortunately, this is how a lot of cases of endometriosis and PCOS go undiagnosed. Any pain or discomfort which interferes with your normal functioning in daily activities is not normal and you should immediately consult a specialist about it. Track your cycle and symptoms, there is a great app on android called ‘Clue’ which I use to track my complete menstrual cycle. It is easy to use and gives very accurate predictions. You can input lots of data on it including your moods, energy levels, appetite etc. and it will predict your cycle for you. I love to track my reproductive cycle and I immediately rushed to the gynaecologist when I realized something was a miss, and consequently I was diagnosed with PCOS.
2. PCOS is a Real Disease and Affects Millions of Women in India:
A lot of people still do not consider PCOS as a real disease but as something of a fraud. This notion is false and needs to change. Your ovaries are just like any other organs of your body. During PCOS, cysts are formed in the ovaries which disrupts the normal hormone signalling pathways of your body. Because of this, you have irregular periods, hormonal acne, hirsutism (abnormal hair growth), insulin resistance etc. The actual cause of PCOS or PCOD is still under research but a recent study in rats has recently suggested that exposure to a certain hormone during pregnancy can cause the developing foetus to have PCOS in the future. It is very much a real disease which is currently being researched by lots of biomedical laboratories across the word.
3. Don’t Fear Medication:
Contraceptive pills are a common form of medication prescribed during PCOS to suppress ovulation and induce your periods. Since, there is already a taboo around reproductive health in India, taking contraceptives during PCOS can come across as shocking to some. Birth control pills are one of the most well-researched medications in the world which means that their side effects are also well-studied. Many women tend to fear these side effects to the extent of not taking birth control pills during PCOS. This fear is understandable but think of it like this: you and your doctor know what you are taking and what you are putting in your body since the medicine is well studied. The best way to combat this fear is to communicate with your gynaecologist about your fears and report any discomfort encountered while taking the pill. Your gynaecologist is your best friend in this case as they have spent so many years studying medicine and the female reproductive organs. Never shy away from taking medication just because you read an article on the internet, consult a specialist. Medication might work for some and might not work for others but irrational fear of it, is dangerous. Another important takeaway is that birth control pills take care of symptoms of PCOS and not the actual syndrome itself.
4. PCOS can Happen to Anyone:
Yes, even thin people can get PCOS. Do not loathe yourself for getting it.It’s okay to be shocked when you are diagnosed. The good news is that PCOS is treatable. Try to have an active lifestyle and this doesn’t necessarily mean you have to hit a very expensive gym daily. Find a workout routine which works for you. Explore all the options: yoga, running, walking, aerobics, Zumba, swimming, gymnastics etc. Finding motivation to work out regularly can be difficult and which is why I recommend taking time to find a routine you love doing. If you love your routine, then you won’t need constant motivation from someone and you will be your own motivation. This is the greatest form of taking care of yourself. Build a relationship with yourself and your body, that’s the greatest medicine. Personally,I am a firm believer in improving lifestyle as well as taking medication, it’s like combative and preventive care at the same time.
To summarise it, remember that your reproductive health is very important, and your reproductive organs also need care when diseased. Take your time to find a workout routine which you love doing and remember that you are not alone. Communicate with your gynaecologist regularly and do not shy away. And above all, learn to take care of yourself by doing small things like taking out time for yourself, putting on a sheet mask or read or going out on a walk. I hope this editorial has helped you to understand PCOS better.
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