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‘Healthy lifestyle can keep genetic disorder at bay’

17 Sep 2020 / 12:40 H.

PETALING JAYA: Ensuring minimum accumulation of body fat will go a long way in helping women cope with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS).

This can be achieved through a low carbohydrate diet and cardio exercises of three to four times a week.

These steps can help keep the body mass index (BMI), a measure of body fat based on height and weight, at a healthy level, and this will help reduce the effects of PCOS, according to consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist Dr Patricia Lim Su-Lyn.

“A BMI of 18 to 22 is ideal for someone suffering from PCOS,” Lim told theSun yesterday.

September is Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome Awareness Month.

The most common complaint among women with PCOS is irregular menstrual cycles caused largely by hormonal imbalance. This often manifests in menstrual cramps and, in many cases, obesity.

The condition, which is incurable, affects the lives of 6% to 10% of women of reproductive age in Malaysia.

Yet, many of their cries go unheard.

Lim, who is with KPJ Tawakal KL Specialist Hospital, said typically, women with PCOS tend to have their periods only once in three or four months.

Some even have symptoms of hyperandrogenism such as male-pattern hair loss, hair on the upper lip and in other areas of the body where hair does not commonly grow for women, she said.

“Since women with PCOS ovulate irregularly or not at all, it also contributes to infertility,” she added.

Lim said prolonged periods of no menstruation could cause growth in the inner lining of the womb and in some cases, it may even lead to cancer. Other risks also associated with PCOS are heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke and Type-2 diabetes.

Unfortunately for sufferers, PCOS is a genetic disorder that cannot be prevented, nor is there a cure. However, treatment is available to ease the pain and slow down its progression.

Lim advised women with irregular periods to seek treatment.

One person who had the worst of it is Kiran Kaur Dhillon, a lecturer at Universiti Tunku Abdul Rahman.

“It began in 2007. I had horrible period cramps and the flow was heavier than usual. I dismissed it as a normal period problem because my mother used to have it,” she said.

But in 2009, when the pain became unbearable and she could not even complete daily routines, Kiran decided to seek help. It was then that she was diagnosed with PCOS.

“I was given medication but it did not help much. My periods began to stabilise but the pain never went away. I began to put on weight and had major acne breakouts.”

She was told that she might not be able to conceive. That prompted a major change in her lifestyle. She cut down on her carbohydrate and sugar intake and eight months later, she conceived her first child.

However, a new challenge came. Doctors found a cyst in the muscles near her ovary that had caused her a lot of pain.

She delivered her son eight months into the pregnancy and eventually had the 16cm cyst removed.

Read this story on our iPaper: ‘Healthy lifestyle can keep genetic disorder at bay’

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