PCOS in teenage girls: Identifying signs and symptoms, lifestyle and dietary tips to manage it

Updated on Oct 01, 2022 07:12 PM IST

Want to tackle PCOS the right way in teenage girls? Here's how to identify the signs and symptoms along with some lifestyle and dietary tips that can make a difference in managing it effectively

PCOS in teenage girls: Identifying signs and symptoms, lifestyle and dietary tips to manage it(Andrea Piacquadio)
PCOS in teenage girls: Identifying signs and symptoms, lifestyle and dietary tips to manage it(Andrea Piacquadio)
ByZarafshan Shiraz, Delhi

Polycystic Ovary Syndrome or PCOS is one of the most common lifelong chronic health disorders that is known to affect women in their teenage and childbearing ages. It is a hormonal imbalance condition that causes heavier periods, irregular menstrual cycles alongside unexplained weight gain or difficulty in maintaining normal weight, acne and clogged pores on the face, excessive hair growth on face, chest or abdomen, affects the chances of pregnancy, causes metabolic disorders including type II diabetes, hypertension and high cholesterol, endometrial cancer, anxiety and depression.

Although it cannot be completely prevented or cured, health experts insist that with early and multidisciplinary management approach of PCOS treatment, lifestyle management and timely psychological counseling, the consequences of PCOS in the later stages of life can be tactfully managed.

Identifying signs and symptoms of PCOS

In an interview with HT Lifestyle, Dr Kavita Pujar, Senior Consultant - Obstetrics and Gynaecology at Kinder Women’s Hospital and Fertility Centre in Bengaluru, shared, “One of the major symptoms of PCOS is irregular or missed periods, which can lead to paused ovulation. In such cases, conceiving a child may become difficult, resulting in infertility. However, if irregular periods are managed during the early years of puberty, women can get pregnant without any difficulty.”

She added, “The next major contributor to PCOS is the growing incidence of childhood obesity which is resulting in early puberty. Obesity can slow down metabolism and hence, cause hormonal imbalances, which again makes it difficult to lose weight or maintain a healthy weight range. For women with PCOS, skin problems are common owing to high androgen (male hormone) levels leading to increased production of sebum, which in turn, causes inflammation and bacterial growth on the skin. Teens with PCOS, with their unexplained weight gain, facial hair growth, acne, metabolic disorders suffer from poor self-image, profound psychological and social crisis that may need immediate attention and care.”

Ways to tackle PCOS in teenage years

Many stay unaware of this condition in the initial stages hence, the symptoms remain ignored or unattended. Dr Kavita Pujar suggested, “The first thing to do after experiencing the above-mentioned symptoms is to consult a Gynecologist. The symptoms must be assessed further using proper diagnostic tests and the right treatment as per the severity of the condition will be prescribed. PCOD can be treated and managed well with simple lifestyle alterations and following a healthy way of living. Many are advised to take oral contraceptive pills to reduce acne and other symptoms, regulate their menstrual cycle; some are also given diabetic medicines to manage their metabolic health and keep their blood sugar levels under control.”

According to her, few lifestyle and dietary tips that can make a difference include:

1. Choosing healthier food and following healthy eating habits

2. Cutting down calories with more balanced and nutritious meal intake

3. Eat according to hunger levels

4. Planning meals early can help make better choices

5. Staying adequately hydrated

6. Regular exercising through sports, aerobics, and fitness programs to stay physically fit, to build muscle mass and burn excess body fat and not only to burn calories

7. Practice yoga and meditation regularly for better psychological health

8. Maintaining a proper sleep cycle for at least 6-8 hours

9. Intake of hormonal medicines prescribed by the consulting doctor at suggested times

10. Stay away from stress to keep cortisol and insulin levels under control

Asserting that making simple lifestyle changes can help manage PCOS better, Dr Kavita Pujar advised, “Opting for healthier meal options instead of foods made with refined flour or with high amounts of sugar, processed or packaged can make a significant difference. In some women, having gluten and dairy free food can provide much needed relief from inflammatory issues like acne or premenstrual syndromes, thus helping in maintaining healthy weight.”

Coping up the right way

PCOS can affect one’s self-esteem owing to the several physical changes and health issues it can cause and not every girl will have the similar symptoms and signs but in a nutshell, the problem remains the same. Dr Kavita Pujar explained, “It is necessary to take the right preventive measures to reduce the intensity of the physical symptoms and tackle emotional health better. Therefore, it is better to start small and have effective results thereafter. Post diagnosis, check with your gynecologist for medicines that can not only normalize menstrual cycle but also help control excessive hair growth or acne. These medicines essentially control the androgen levels in the body. If such hormonal medicines do not show much change, consult a dermatologist for further treatment.”

She elaborated, “Feeling anxious or depressed also needs to be tackled tactfully. Talking to a therapist can help. Try to build a positive environment around them, listen to their problems and sort them out to build their confidence in themselves. Lastly, in most cases, despite identifying the signs and symptoms of PCOS, many women choose to self-medicate or delay treatment, which can in turn lead to health risks in future. It is, thus, advisable to consult a gynecologist at the onset of identifying symptoms and get treated on time.”

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