PCOS: Potential Causes, Symptoms, & Treatment Options

Last updated on August 3rd, 2023

What is PCOS?

Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a health problem that leads to abnormal production of androgens in the body. Androgens are male sex hormones that generally occur in small quantities in females. These androgens are in high amounts in females with PCOS. This may lead to issues in a female’s menstrual period. Also, it may bring about some other PCOS symptoms.

The name itself relates to the several small cysts (in other words, fluid-filled sacs) that get produced in the ovaries. Yet, a few females with PCOS do not have cysts, whereas, in some without PCOS, cysts can be seen.

How Prevalent Is PCOS in India?

From the minimal data available from the researchers, the prevalence of PCOS in India ranges from 3.7% to 22.5%. Due to this minimal data, explaining the incidence of PCOS in India is very tough.

What Causes PCOS?What causes PCOS

The exact PCOS causes are not known. Factors that can play a crucial role may involve:

Insulin Resistance and Type 2 Diabetes

Are you aware that insulin is like a superhero hormone your incredible pancreas gland produces? Its main job is to regulate sugar in the blood. It assists in transporting glucose from the blood into the body cells. And, there, it gets broken down to give energy. It’s like the traffic cop for sugar in your blood.

So, what is insulin resistance? It is when the body’s tissues become resistant to the effects of insulin, so the body has to form an additional amount of insulin to compensate. Insulin in excess amounts may lead to the production of extra testosterone by the ovaries. And this hinders the development of the follicles and prevents the ovulation process. Now, what are these follicles? These are some small sac-like structures where eggs get produced.

Insulin resistance can disturb the delicate balance of your body’s processes. It can disrupt your ovulation process and disturb your follicle development. Insulin resistance can even contribute to weight gain, further deteriorating the PCOS symptoms. An excess amount of fat may lead to the production of a large amount of insulin. It’s just like a complex dance going inside your body!

So, over half of the females having PCOS develop type 2 diabetes by their 40s. A high level of insulin indicates PCOS. Now the question arises, can insulin resistance be reversed? Yes, it is possible to reverse insulin resistance. Insulin resistance, a significant risk factor of type 2 diabetes, may result from extra energy in the body cells over many years. To reverse this issue, follow a healthy eating plan to reverse type 2 diabetes and related health problems like PCOS. Shedding weight also helps improve insulin sensitivity and lower the risk of PCOS.

For help related to weight loss or diet interventions, you can always get help from an expert and enrol yourself in a Weight Loss Program at Breathe Well-Being.

Hormonal Imbalance

Do you know that a majority of females with PCOS are expected to develop an imbalance in certain hormones, such as:

  • High Levels of Testosterone: Testosterone is nothing but a male hormone, even if all females generally produce small quantities of it.
  • Low Levels of Sex Hormone-Binding Globulin (SHBG): a protein present in the blood that attaches to testosterone and decreases its effect.
  • High Levels of luteinising hormone (LH): it is a hormone that stimulates ovulation; however, it might exert an abnormal result on the ovaries in the presence of raised levels.
  • High Levels of Prolactin: it is a hormone that stimulates milk production in pregnancy by the breast glands.

Understanding hormonal imbalance issues helps us appreciate the complex connections within our bodies. Can one achieve overall wellness and a harmonious balance by implementing a healthy lifestyle, losing weight, and proper medical guidance?

Read More: Chart For Normal Blood Sugar Level For Adults with Diabetes


PCOS, at times, runs in families. If PCOS runs in any relatives, like mother, sister, or aunt, the risk of PCOS development increases. You might wonder if they can be genetically associated with PCOS, even if particular genes related to the condition have not yet been recognized.

Low-Grade Inflammation

When a person gets injured or infected, certain substances are produced by the white blood cells (WBCs) in response to it. This response can be referred to as low-grade inflammation. According to recent studies, people with PCOS develop a kind of long-term, low-grade inflammation that may cause polycystic ovaries to form androgens. This may, in turn, bring about cardiovascular and blood vessel problems.

You might not know that continuous low-grade inflammation in your body may delay how insulin works. And, as you know, insulin controls blood glucose levels in the body and helps the body cells absorb glucose for energy. But when inflammation blocks the way, the whole process can get disturbed.

Let’s quickly dive into the process: chronic inflammation can trigger specific bodies to release cytokines. These tiny pests may hinder the normal working of insulin and make the body cells less receptive to its effects. Consequently, the body must produce even more insulin to compensate for this reduced use. Gradually, this additional demand on the pancreas may give rise to insulin resistance. And guess what? Insulin resistance is one of the significant risk factors for type 2 diabetes.

Low-grade inflammation may also have an effect on other things associated with type 2 diabetes. It may disturb the hormonal balance (hormones involved in metabolism), intensify the release of fatty acids into the blood, and even influence the working of fat cells.

All these factors may add to the development of type 2 diabetes. But there is no need to worry as if you understand this link, you can open the door to its management. Lifestyle changes like a balanced diet, regular exercise, stress management, and sound sleep can help lower inflammation and improve insulin sensitivity. For this, you can always talk to a Diabetes Reversal Expert at Breathe Well-Being, a digital platform for your overall well-being.

Read More: HbA1c (Hemoglobin A1c) A1c Chart, Test, Levels, & Normal Range

Symptoms for PCOSSymptoms for PCOS

Symptoms for PCOS often initiate when it is the time of the first menstrual period. At times, PCOS symptoms develop later after a female has periods for a while. The signs of PCOS may differ. PCOS diagnosis can be made when a female has at least 2 of these:

Abnormal Menstrual Periods

Having few periods or having irregular periods are common symptoms of PCOS. Thus, having a menstrual cycle that persists for several days or longer than is normal for a menstrual period. For instance, you can have fewer than nine periods a year. Those menstrual periods might take place for more than 35 days apart. A female might experience difficulty in getting pregnant.

Read More: Top 10 Homeopathic Medicine For Diabetes.

Excess Androgen Levels

High levels of androgen might bring about too much body and facial hair. This is known as hirsutism. At times, serious acne and male-pattern baldness might occur as well.

Polycystic Ovaries

A female’s ovaries can be larger. Several follicles consisting of immature eggs might develop around the ovary edge. The ovaries may not work the way they must.

Fertility Issues

PCOS is one of the most common reasons for female infertility. A majority of females think that they experience PCOS while they’re experiencing trouble conceiving. During each menstrual cycle, ovaries liberate an egg (ovum) into the womb (uterus). This process is called ovulation and generally occurs once a month. However, females with PCOS do not ovulate intermittently, implying abnormal or missed menstrual periods.

Symptoms for PCOS are characteristically more serious in people with obesity.

Read More: What is Glycemic Index And To Calculate?

How PCOS Affects a Person’s Body?PCOS Affects

Androgen levels greater than usual might have an effect on a female’s fertility and overall health.


To conceive, a female has to ovulate. Females who don’t ovulate on a regular basis don’t liberate as many eggs to get fertilized. One of the prevalent reasons for female infertility is PCOS. You can always take care of your diet patterns. For any help related to diet, you can speak to a certified dietician or a nutritionist at Breathe Well-Being.

Metabolic syndrome

Up to 80% of females with PCOS are obese. Both PCOS and obesity increase the risk for:

  • High blood pressure
  • High blood sugar
  • High LDL “bad” cholesterol
  • Low HDL “good” cholesterol

In combination, these factors are known as metabolic syndrome, and they might enhance the risk for:

  • Cardiovascular problems
  • Stroke
  • Diabetes

Read More: Indian Diet for Diabetes Reversal.

Sleep Apnea

This condition results in recurrent pauses in breathing throughout the night, which may hinder sleep. Sleep apnea more commonly occurs in females who are obese, particularly if they also have PCOS. The sleep apnea risk is five to ten times higher in females with both PCOD and obesity compared to females without PCOS.


Both hormonal alterations and signs such as undesirable hair growth may harm a person’s emotions. A majority with PCOS ultimately develop anxiety and depression.

Endometrial cancer

There is a shedding of the uterine lining during ovulation. If a female does not ovulate each month, the lining may accumulate. A thickened uterine lining may enhance the risk of endometrial cancer.

Read More: How to Stimulate Your Pancreas to produce insulin in the body?

What Are The Risks of PCOS In Later Life?

PCOS may enhance the possibilities of other medical conditions in later life. For instance, females with PCOS have an increased risk of developing:

Type 2 diabetes is a chronic medical problem resulting in an individual’s blood glucose level getting too high.

  • High Cholesterol And High Blood Pressure: may give rise to cardiovascular disorders and stroke.
  • Sleep Apnea: obese females might also develop sleep apnoea, a health problem that results in intermittent breathing during sleep.
  • Mood Swings And Depression: the signs of PCOS may have an effect on a female’s self-confidence.

Females with a history of absent or abnormal periods (fewer than three or four periods a year) for several years are at a high risk of developing endometrial cancer (tumour of the womb lining). However, the possibility of developing endometrial cancer is slight and may be decreased with the help of treatments. These treatments may help to regulate periods, like birth control pills or an intrauterine system (IUS).

How to Diagnose PCOS?

In many cases, a doctor may diagnose PCOS after an assessment and discuss the signs. They might order blood tests or carry out an ultrasound to aid the diagnosis.

The concerned doctor may:

  • Discuss with the patient regarding signs and medical history.
  • Talk about the family’s medical history.
  • Take the patient’s weight and blood pressure.
  • Carry out a physical evaluation, particularly for too much facial hair, acne, hair loss, discolouration on the skin, and skin tags.
  • Carry out a pelvic examination to diagnose other reasons for irregular bleeding.
  • Go for blood tests to evaluate glucose and hormone levels.
  • Carry out a pelvic ultrasound to examine the ovaries, uterine lining thickness and check for other reasons for irregular bleeding.

PCOS TreatmentPCOS Affects

The concerned doctor would determine treatment depending on the symptoms of PCOS, medical history and other medical problems, and if a female wishes to conceive. PCOS treatment may involve medicines, lifestyle modifications, or a blend of both.

If a female does not plan to become pregnant, PCOS treatment can be:

Insulin-Sensitizing Drugs

Metformin is a medication useful to treat diabetes. It acts by assisting the body in processing insulin. Once insulin levels get regulated, few females with PCOS notice improvements in their periods.

Hormonal Birth Control

Alternatives involve hormonal contraceptives, shots, patches, an intrauterine device (IUD), or a vaginal ring. Hormonal contraceptives aid in regulating female’s periods; a few types would also help in improving acne and too much hair growth.

Medicines For Blocking Androgens

A few medicines may help in inhibiting the effect of androgens. This assists in controlling acne or hair growth issues. In order to get any help, it is good to speak to a concerned doctor about whether such treatment is appropriate for the female or not.

Lifestyle Modifications

Having a nutrient-dense diet and maintaining a body weight may exert a positive effect on the levels of insulin.

If a female wishes to conceive now or in the future, PCOS treatment involves:

Medications for Inducing Ovulation (egg release)

An effective pregnancy starts with ovulation. Medications that are known to induce ovulation in females with PCOS can include clomiphene and letrozole. These medications are consumed orally, while gonadotropins are injectable formulations.

In Vitro Fertilization (IVF)

This is another PCOS treatment option for females with PCOS when medicine doesn’t aid ovulation. The concerned doctor fertilizes the egg with the partner’s sperm in a laboratory setting before shifting it to the female’s uterus.


A surgical technique may assist in restoring ovulation by taking away tissue in a female’s ovaries that forms hormones androgens. Surgeons rarely go for this technique when newer medicines are available.

PCOS Management?PCOS Management

Weight management

Weight loss or maintaining a healthy body weight aids in improving total body cholesterol levels, decreasing the risk of cardiac problems, high blood pressure, and diabetes, and maintaining standard androgen and insulin levels to reestablish the ovulation phase in the menstrual cycle. For any other assistance, a person can always talk to a dietitian for a weight-loss programme to get herself or himself in a healthy BMI range.

Read More: Is Rice Good For Diabetes?

Staying Active and Doing Regular Physical Activity

If a female has PCOD or PCOS, regular physical activity and staying active would aid in controlling blood glucose levels and keeping her weight controlled.

Limiting Carb Intake

If a female has PCOD or PCOS, it is better to follow a low-carb diet or complex-carb diet that would aid in maintaining the levels of insulin. It is good to have veggies, fish, meat, and eggs that grow above ground level and consume natural fats (such as sunflower, sesame, butter, or pumpkin seeds). Also, avoiding sugar and starchy food products such as rice, potatoes, cakes, bread, beans, pasta, etc, is important.


In a nutshell, PCOS and type 2 diabetes are linked to each other. Females with PCOS are more likely to develop type 2 diabetes than females who do not have PCOS. It is possible to reverse these conditions by making certain lifestyle changes, such as losing weight, consuming a healthful diet, and exercising frequently. Any female with PCOS who is pregnant or planning a pregnancy must discuss with a doctor about complications relating to PCOS, such as gestational diabetes.

For help related to Type 2 Diabetes reversal, Breathe Well-being is the leading platform. It is a well-researched path to Type 2 Diabetes Reversal and its Management. Its clinically proven approach has helped 10,000+ diabetics to live a healthy lifestyle, lose weight, lower blood sugar and prevent other diabetes-related complications.


When To Eat With PCOS?

Breakfast is the best time to eat for females with PCOS. This is a vital time to refuel the body after overnight fasting, promote digestion, stabilize energy levels, and kickstart a person’s metabolism, affecting the rest of the day.

Which Kind Of Exercise Works Well For PCOS?

Moderate physical activities like jogging, brisk walking, swimming, or cycling all work great in females with PCOS. Such exercises enhance the body’s sensitivity to insulin, decreasing the risk of heart problems and type 2 diabetes.


What Foods Lead To The Deterioration Of PCOS?

Females with PCOS must avoid the following foods:

  • Fried foods
  • Sugary beverages
  • Processed meats like hot dogs, sausages, hamburgers
  • Refined carbs like pasta, white bread, or pastries
  • Processed food products like candies, cakes, sweetened yoghurt, and ice creams with too much sugar.


What Diet Should A Female With PCOS Eat?

A PCOS-friendly diet should emphasize fruits, non-starchy veggies, lean protein, low-fat dairy items, and healthy carbohydrates. All of these can assist females with PCOS to get healthier and prevent PCOS-related complications.


Mention The Root Cause Of PCOS.

Many signs of PCOS result due to higher-than-standard levels of hormones referred to as androgens. The ovaries form hormones, in other words, chemicals that regulate bodily functions.

Which Hormone Is Not Present In PCOS?

Many females with PCOS have high levels of luteinizing hormone, lower levels of follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), and high levels of insulin and androgens.


Last Updated on by Dr. Damanjit Duggal 


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