I frequently speak to my friends about intimate issues, like PCOS (Polycystic Ovary Syndrome), and often watch videos on YouTube about similar topics. Anecdotally, I’ve noticed that it appears PCOS is on the rise, and I wondered why this is the case. As September is PCOS Awareness Month, I’ve researched it and wanted to present my findings.
What is PCOS?
Polycystic Ovary Syndrome is a common condition that affects how women’s ovaries work. The common symptoms include:
- irregular periods
- excess male hormones (androgen) that may cause excess body or facial hair
- polycystic ovaries, meaning your ovaries are enlarged and contain many follicles that surround the eggs
- excess production of insulin, possibly leading to diabetes1
It’s difficult to know exactly how many women have this condition, but it is thought that as many as 1 in 10 women in the UK are affected.2 Treatment is usually focused on your individual concerns, such as infertility, acne, hair growth or obesity.3
Is PCOS on the rise?
It is believed that 1 in 15 women worldwide suffer from PCOS and is the leading cause of infertility in women.4 A review in 2007 predicted that cases of PCOS would steadily increase due to the obesity epidemic.5 Another study suggests that PCOS is steadily increasing in cities6, but why is this the case?
Why is PCOS becoming more common?
The cause of PCOS is unknown (though it is thought to be genetic)7, but there are some theories about why it is increasing. Doctors in India have attributed this rise in PCOS to the more sedentary lifestyle that leads to a higher BMI.8 Other triggers could include:
- junk food
- improper sleep hygiene
- lack of exercise
- a genetic predisposition9
While PCOS cannot exactly be prevented, leading a healthy lifestyle is a good idea in general10. In terms of managing the condition, you can try:
- losing any excess weight, as this will help regulate blood glucose control and improve your cholesterol levels
- talking to your doctor about taking metformin if you have diabetes or prediabetes
- consider taking the Pill, as this can help to regulate your menstrual cycle, slow excess hair growth and improve your acne11
So, it’s clear that PCOS is on the rise, possibly due to genetic factors or a more sedentary lifestyle. If you are interested in reading more about women’s health issues, check out my blogpost from a few weeks ago.
And if you need Arabic or French to English medical translation, please get in touch with me on firstname.lastname@example.org.
1 “Polycystic ovary syndrome”, NHS, 01 February 2019, Source: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/polycystic-ovary-syndrome-pcos/
3 “Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), Mayo Clinic, n.d., Source: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/pcos/diagnosis-treatment/drc-20353443
4 “PCOS Expected to Rise”, Salynn Boyles, 23 August 2007, Source: https://www.webmd.com/women/news/20070823/pcos-expected-to-rise
6 “PCOS cases on the rise in five years: city doctors”, Tini Sara Anien, 17 September 2019, Source: https://www.deccanherald.com/metrolife/metrolife-cityscape/pcos-cases-on-the-rise-in-five-years-city-doctors-762056.html
7 “Polycystic ovary syndrome”, NHS, 01 February 2019, Source: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/polycystic-ovary-syndrome-pcos/
8 “PCOS cases on the rise in five years: city doctors”, Tini Sara Anien, 17 September 2019, Source: https://www.deccanherald.com/metrolife/metrolife-cityscape/pcos-cases-on-the-rise-in-five-years-city-doctors-762056.html
11 “Can PCOS Be Prevented?”, Jeffrey M. Goldberg, 13 April 2021, Source: https://www.verywellhealth.com/can-pcos-be-prevented-4690740