Although eight to 13% of women suffer from polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), it remains a female health condition that many people are unaware of and often goes for years without being diagnosed and treated.
This hormonal disorder with reproductive, cosmetic and metabolic consequences, if left untreated, can develop into diabetes, cardiac problems linked to hypertension and high cholesterol, as well as sleeping problems. Early diagnosis is imperative to avoid other unwanted long-term issues such as infertility.
Salome ambassador, pharmacist and female reproductive health consultant Tendai Bbosa identifies five common PCOS symptoms:
* Irregular or prolonged menstrual cycles.
* Elevated levels of the male hormone androgen which results in excess body hair, particularly on the upper lip, face, arms and chest.
* Being overweight or obese.
* Polycystic ovaries where the ovaries are not able to function
Bbosa warns that PCOS may present different symptoms and signs at different stages of a women’s life but these are basic warning signs that every woman should look out for. They need to see a gynaecologist to get a diagnosis for PCOS.
“Just because you battle with your weight, have cysts on your ovaries sometimes or because you’re struggling to fall pregnant, you should never make the assumption you have PCOS without being carefully examined and diagnosed by a health practitioner.
“Once you’re certain, only then should you start treating the condition; and the earlier you can treat diagnosed PCOS, the better!”, says Bbosa.
While the cause of PCOS is unknown, there are various treatments, such as hormonal and non-hormonal treatment solutions, as well as lifestyle modifications which includes healthy eating and exercise for women who are overweight. Other options include Myo-inositol and D-chiro-inositol (DCI). DCI improves ovarian function by increasing insulin sensitivity thereby reducing the excess male hormone.
Boitumelo Sebambo, the chief executive of 3Sixty Biomedicine, says creating awareness about women’s health conditions and educating women about treatment options is empowering young women to take better care of their bodies despite their health challenges.
"We want to see women thrive and make informed choices about their health. Wwe will continue doing so through investments in research and development that will speak to the South African female consumer who is affected by common women’s health issues.”