India has witnessed a spike of 30% in PCOS cases in last few years, a trend that got exacerbated due to the lifestyle changes enforced by the pandemic, says Dr Vidya V Bhat, Fertility Specialist & Medical Director, RadhaKrishna Multispecialty Hospital
Bengaluru/ August 29, 2020: Lifestyle changes forced by Covid19 lockdown since the past several months have made women much more susceptible to Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS), with the last few months seeing a sharp rise in the number of cases. Being home-bound, lack of exercise, online ordering of junk food, binge watching TV, and irregular sleep patterns have led to an increase in average weight gain among women. This, coupled with ignoring irregular or heavy menstrual cycles in the lockdown period, is driving the spike in PCOS cases, according to Dr. Vidya V Bhat, Laparoscopic Surgeon and Fertility Specialist and Medical Director of RadhaKrishna Multispecialty Hospital, Bengaluru.
Said Dr. Vidya V Bhat: “PCOS is a common disease of the endocrine gland. Most studies in India report its prevalence anywhere from 9% to 36%. PCOS accounts for 85% of ovulatory disorders in women, which are a prominent cause of infertility. Yet, many women remain unaware that they are suffering from PCOS. India has witnessed a spike of 30 percent in cases of PCOS in the last few years, a trend which got exacerbated due to the lifestyle changes enforced by the pandemic.”
Said Dr Vidya V Bhat: “The lockdown has complicated health issues for women. Irregular follow-ups with the doctor during the Covid times is leading to an increase in the incidence of PCOS, especially among women who are undergoing treatment for infertility. 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. Sedentary lifestyle and becoming a couch-potato are increasing the chances of relapse of PCOS in patients, or the disorder becoming much more severe with increased symptoms.”
According to Dr. Vidya V Bhat, PCOS can happen due to causes such as excessive consumption of saturated fat, weight gain, inflammation, chemicals and hormonal imbalance. It has major health implications including obesity, infertility, Type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular diseases and mental and psychological problems. The disorder can also result in irregular periods, excessive facial or body hair, thinning of hair, skin discoloration and sleep apnea. PCOS is detected using an ultrasound exam or blood test. Lifestyle management is very important for PCOS patients, including regulated diet, physical exercise and management of blood sugar and hypertension. Treatment can also involve oral contraceptive pills and laparoscopy.”
Busting the prevalent myths about PCOS, Dr. Vidya V Bhat said: “Contrary to popular belief, women with children can also have PCOS, while women with PCOS can also have children. PCOS does not discriminate based on age. It is also not necessary for any woman to be overweight to suffer from PCOS.”
The doctor said that the trend of online consultation with a gynaecologist during the lockdown period, though comforting for the patient, does not help much in treatment. “PCOS needs to be treated through a proper scan and then treatment given depending on the severity of the disorder. This cannot be done over a tele-consultation. The physical presence of patient in front of the doctor is necessary for proper diagnosis of PCOS and decide an appropriate treatment plan,” Dr Vidya V Bhat added.
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