What is PCOS? 


Your reproductive health is important even if you’re not planning on having a family one day. Your STI status, hormone levels and use of contraception all have an impact on your physical, emotional and mental health.

If you have ovaries, it’s important to be aware of illnesses like polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS). This is a common disorder that impacts your hormones. The usual effects of the disorder manifest as infertility, excessive hair growth, acne and unpredictable menstrual cycles.

PCOS causes the ovaries, the organs that release eggs, to overproduce male hormones, which leaves you with a hormonal imbalance. Having PCOS means that the level of androgens your ovaries generate is abnormally high, leadingto disproportion in your reproductive hormones.


How does this affect your body?

As you can probably guess, PCOS is a tricky and unpleasant condition. Genetics play a role in your risk for PCOS, and the majority of women with PCOS gain weight due to insulin resistance. 

Good to know: insulin resistance is more characteristic in overweight women, but PCOS doesn’t discriminate too much. It can also affect slimmer women.

Insulin resistance means that your body isn’t able to send enough glucose to the body cells that need fuel. When this happens, the pancreas produces more insulin to maintain stable glucose levels; hence the weight gain.

High amounts of testosterone in your body prevent ovulation, which results in irregular menstrual cycles. Small, fluid-filled sacs can also form in the ovaries as a result of irregular ovulation. 


Symptoms to look out for: 

  • Irregular periods, missing periods or not menstruating at all. Some women also bleed between periods.
  • Excessive facial hair and thick hair on your arms, chest and tummy. 
  • Acne, particularly on your back, chest and face. 
  • PCOS-affected women may be overweight or obese and struggle to lose weight.
  • Skin darkening, and creases in your neck, under your arms and in your armpits. 
  • Small pockets of fluid are common in the ovaries of PCOS patients.
  • Skin tags (tiny skin flaps). These are typically found on the neck or in the armpits.
  • Women with PCOS may experience patches of hair loss.
  • Infertility is most frequently caused by PCOS. Lack of ovulation or decreased ovulation frequency can prevent conception.


How is PCOS treated? 

Based on your symptoms, medical history, specific health concerns and whether you wish to get pregnant, your doctor will decide on the best method. The usual treatments include a combination of medication and lifestyle changes. 

  • Hormonal contraception (birth control) helps manage acne, excess hair growth and irregular menstrual cycles.
  • Insulin-sensitising medicine functions by improving insulin metabolism in your body. Some PCOS patients experience improvements in their menstrual cycles once their insulin levels are under control.
  • Some medications can block the effects of androgens and minimise acne and excessive hair growth.
  • Lifestyle changes like sticking to a balanced diet and losing weight can help lower insulin levels.



Prevent the effects of PCOS by maintaining a healthy weight, exercising regularly and getting your fill of vegetables. Speak with your doctor if your symptoms disturb you or reduce your quality of life. Treatment is available.


This article is for informational purposes only. Always check with your doctor or medical practitioner about any health concerns, before embarking on any fitness or nutrition programme, and usage of any medication.