PCOS: A Syndrome Affecting One in Five Indian Women
Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is often dismissed as a ‘menstrual issue’ but affects a fifth of India’s women and has severe implications if left untreated. “It’s time we had serious discussions on the issue,” says Amrita Madhukalya. She would try and block from her mind the several times boys in school would unkindly remind her of her growing moustache. Yet, it was the unexpected comment from her friend’s mother that unsettled Swagata the most. “I had gone to this guy’s house along with some friends. His mom spoke to us and cracked a few jokes. Things were beginning to get fun. And then she looked at me and said, ‘When you get married, we will gift you a huge hamper of razors.’ “I was speechless,” says Swagata, who was 14 then. Swagata suffered from a milder form of polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). Her periods were regular, but heavy. So the extra weight and unwanted hair on certain parts of her body, especially her face and chin, were not a huge concern for her mother, who did not seek medical attention for the teenager at the time. Hers is one of the millions of such cases in India. It is also symptomatic of the attitudes that shroud menstrual issues like PCOS.
As growing adolescents, young girls who suffer from PCOS are routinely jeered by peers, because in the accepted idea of femininity, there’s no space for zits and moustaches. PCOS, if untreated, can have severe implications. And many say there is no permanent cure. Since it affects a fifth of India’s women, mostly in their prime, a national policy to tackle it should be a priority.
Medically, PCOS has been understood to be a complex hormonal medical condition in which the presence of immature follicles in the ovary leads to the expression of ‘male’ characteristics in a woman. This includes hirsutism, a hoarse voice, obesity and irregular periods. The expression of these symptoms could also lead to type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease in later life, apart from cancer of the uterus.
Source: (DnaIndia) dnaindia.com