Being healthy and fit isn’t a fad or a trend, instead it’s a lifestyle. This is exactly where we as believers of the mantra ‘health is wealth’ are failing, becoming victims to this fast-paced world. As a gynaecologist I have seen a rise in medical issues amongst youngsters and ‘working women’ which mostly stem from the lifestyle choices they make. I would like to further elaborate on this hypothesis. It has been observed that in recent times at least one out of three females suffer from Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) or Polycystic Ovarian Disease (PCOD) both related to the malfunctioning of the ovaries.
Despite it being such a common occurrence not much of dialogue has been done on it. PCOS and PCOD is a result of hormonal imbalance which leads to increase in ovarian volume creating tiny cysts at the periphery. This adversely affects menstruation and ovulation, the signs of which are irregular periods followed by weight gain, acne and excessive hair growth, the symptoms can vary from person to person.
These signs may not be visible immediately in case of irregular periods one must consult a doctor immediately and take the necessary tests and precautionary steps required. The usual procedure followed is starting regular medication of progesterone pills or oral contraceptive pills as prescribed by the doctor. Usually seen as lifestyle disease, some common causes linked to PCOS and PCOD are the unhealthy eating habits, lack of exercise, stress or genetic variation which leads to bulky ovaries. Though PCOS and PCOD cannot be completely cured there are certain steps one can take to keep it in control, which include lifestyle modifications. Those who tend to binge eat could cut down their junk food intake, regular exercising can help keep the weight in check as well as reduce stress levels and regular visits to the doctor can go a long way.
Well, according to market sources, in Pune it is believed that approximately 90 per cent of customers for over the counter (OTC) emergency contraceptives are people in their twenties. This is not a worrying issue or a statement on society but an underlying question that is left unanswered in the mind of these youngsters. Is the pill a safe method? I would say it is completely safe and recommended but keeping certain guidelines in mind. Remember that condoms are 98 per cent effective and are primarily used as protection against sexually transmitted diseases, therefore the use of a condom as well as taking a contraceptive pill assures complete precaution. That being said, before getting onto the pill, consult a doctor for the judicious use of it and the prevention of any other medical issues that could follow. Some pills do have varying estrogen content due to which the guidance of a doctor would work best.
In case of any pre-existing health problems, the doctor must be notified so as to not let it affect the body. People with migraines or diabetes who are on the pill could get impacted by the side-effects of the pill. Despite pills being easily available, youngsters must assure that they are completely aware of consequences and safety of themselves.
To enumerate on what I meant by a burning issue that working women face nowadays is when is the right time to conceive and how do delayed pregnancies affect the process. The medical aspect simply states facts that should be followed as per convenience. With the kind of lifestyles we lead now, starting a family can sometimes take a backseat during the time when the fertility rate is high (mid twenties). Delayed pregnancies could pose a threat after the age of 30, especially affecting those suffering from PCOS or PCOD, therefore it is advised by doctors that the best time to conceive would be between 25-30 years of age. A valid reason to explain this theory is that with each year the ovarian activity declines, which makes the process slower or complicated.
I would just like to conclude by saying that one of the worrying repercussions of PCOD or aborting a child is depression. Therefore, though counselling is considered a taboo in our country, my suggestion would be that counselling is the best solution as opposed to medication and other forms of treatment.
This weekly column is open to all kinds of questions which will be answered by me. On issues that we are facing due to lifestyle changes or other doubts that you may want cleared.
Dr Mini Salunkhe is a well-known gynaecologist who has been practising in Pune for over a decade now. Apart from being a private practitioner she is a consulting obstetrician and gynaecologist with Inamdar Hospital.
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