BENGALURU: Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS), a hormonal disorder causing multiple cysts in ovaries, is always assumed to be associated with overweight women.
However, doctors have reported an increase in lean PCOS, where thin or underweight women suffer from the same symptoms.
Irregular periods, lack of ovulation or late ovulation, increased facial hair, problems in conceiving, and acne, are some of the symptoms both kinds of patients go through.
The awareness over lean PCOS is lower among public, where adolescent girls and young women have low body mass index.
For instance, in Motherhood Hospitals of Bengaluru, the ratio of obese PCOS to lean PCOS was previously 8:2, but it is 7:3. “A 21-year-old woman, around 5’8” in height and 46 kg weight, came here two weeks ago.
"She aspires to become a flight attendant and was asked to maintain a weight of 55 kg as a prerequisite. She had irregular periods with insufficient bleeding. An ultrasound confirmed that she has PCOS,” said Dr Madhushree Vijayakumar, consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist, Motherhood Hospitals.
In this case, as the patient has low BMI, she was put on a high protein diet and prescribed exercises.“The androgen levels (male hormones) are high in women with PCOS and they also suffer from fertility issues. Scans reveal cysts in the ovaries.
"If a woman has at least two of the major symptoms, they are diagnosed with PCOS. Usually, women who are overweight are diagnosed with it, along with a family history of diabetes. The awareness on lean PCOS is low,” she said.
Genetic predisposition, high carbohydrates and low protein content in the diet, less physical activity and increased digital access leading to a sedentary lifestyle, are the contributing factors.
According to Dr Santosh Gupta, fertility consultant, NOVA IVF Fertility, the numbers for both obese and lean PCOS are on the rise, with 20 per cent of the cases coming under the lean category.
“Those between 23-30 years, find it difficult to conceive. Being less active and consuming junk food are the possible reasons,” Dr Santosh said.
She added, “We prescribe exercises, proper diet, meals on time, walking 30-40 minutes a day, avoiding junk food. We do not give medication to younger women but give it to those with diabetes, thyroid, pre-diabetic or diabetic women.”
Stress is a factor that one needs to address, said Dr Prakash Kini, group medical director and senior consultant, Cloudnine Hospitals.