India has witnessed a sharp spike in PCOS cases in last few years, a trend that has got exacerbated due to lifestyle changes enforced by lockdown.
PCOS affects 5-10% of Indian women in the reproductive age group and is prevalent in 15-20% of infertile women. Its incidence has risen sharply in the last few months since the COVID-19 lockdown due to an enforced sedentary lifestyle, irregular sleep patterns, ignoring irregular menstrual cycles, excessive time spent watching TV, and an increase in average weight gain due to lack of exercise. Worse, women are seeking medical care only in cases of unavoidable health concerns, leading to a delay in treatment of PCOS and further worsening of the condition. OnlyMyHealth editorial team had a brief conversation with Dr Jayasree Sundar, (Director, Obstetrics & Gynecology, Madhukar Rainbow Children’s Hospital, Delhi) where she elaborated about several lifestyle changes during lockdown that led to PCOS Cases Spike Among Women.
Is there a rise in PCOS cases?
Said Dr Jayasree Sundar: “There has been a steady rise in the incidence of PCOS over the last decade or two, a trend that has accelerated in the lockdown. However, on the brighter side, the lockdown has ensured that couples are getting more time together, and stress levels have gone down between husband and wife. What we have observed that in the last few months, even those couples who were undergoing fertility treatment have been able to conceive naturally, surprising everyone.”
How has lockdown affected PCOS?
Dr Jayasree Sundar added: “The lockdown has complicated health issues for women. Irregular follow-ups with the doctor during the lockdown are leading to a spike in the incidence of PCOS. This disorder is also linked with higher levels of circulating insulin, and there is a spike in the number of diabetic patients during the lockdown. A sedentary lifestyle and becoming a couch-potato are increasing the chances of relapse of PCOS inpatients, or the disorder becoming much more severe with increased symptoms.”
Women healthcare workers and PCOS
In all the debate about the lockdown, there has not much focus on the plight of the female healthcare workers who are often working round the clock in the ongoing pandemic. “Women healthcare workers are bearing the brunt of stress and long working hours. Due to this, are not only facing issues like mask acne and period disturbances but also the rising incidence of PCOS,” said Dr Jayasree Sundar.
What is PCOS, and how one can avoid it?
She added: “PCOS is a common disease of the endocrine gland, yet many women remain unaware they are suffering from it. Indian women are also known for ignoring their health to the point that it becomes a huge problem. PCOS has many short-term and long-term health effects, from acne, excessive hair growth, hair loss and weight gain to subfertility, miscarriages, gestational diabetes, menstrual disorders and even endometrial cancer. To avoid PCOS, women need to make changes to their food and lifestyle such as removing maida(refined flour) and sweets from their diet, eating a balanced diet, sleeping on time, regular exercise, meditation for stress relief and promptly seeing a doctor for health problems.“
Conclusion: PCOS is detected using an ultrasound exam or blood test. Treatment involves oral contraceptive pills, laparoscopy, diet control, exercise and medication to control high blood sugar.
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