While infertility is embarrassing enough, at least within the Nigerian and African context, women are often and for wrong reasons, the target of derision in the family and community settings. I wish to state, once again for emphasis, that fertility challenge is not a woman’s problem alone. In fact, a third of the fertility problems is a man’s fault, another third lay with the woman and the remaining third is shared equally by the couple.
As we can now see, it is unfortunate that in most societies of the world but more so in Nigeria, we blame our women. One prays that this cultural attitude will change through education of the public to change public perception on infertility. For today however, we will focus on a disturbing trend in the causation of childlessness in the couple: polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS).
WHAT IS PCOS?
First, let us discuss the normal condition. When a baby girl is just six weeks old inside her mother’s womb, she had about 6million eggs at her disposal. By the time the girl is born, she has about two million eggs. The rest have died even before she was born. By the time the same girl is 15 years old, the eggs have reduced to 250,000 on each of her ovaries. By the time the same girl is 35 years, the remaining eggs start to perish at an alarming rate. When she reaches 50, only about 1000 eggs are remaining. While in the womb, there are chemicals which we call hormones that regulate the development of the eggs. This regulation may go wrong in PCOS.
The second part of the normal is that when a girl reaches puberty at about 13-15 years onward and she starts her menstrual period, of the 500,000 (250,000 on each ovary), about 10-15 will develop in each menstrual cycle. Only one of these will be released at ovulation. The rest of the nine-14 eggs will die. In PCOS, this normal pattern of development-ovulation and death, does not take place. Rather, a huge number of the eggs start to develop. Instead of 10-15 eggs, the woman could have anything in excess of 25 eggs at any time. None of these will mature enough to be released at ovulation. The eggs just hang in the middle in a state persistent immaturity. PCOS is a disorder of women in their reproductive age. PCOS as part of overall hormone imbalance that may afflict women, may be due to environment factors such as pollution, cosmetics, beauty products, pharmaceutical agents and so forth. Women should re-consider the use of these products with all seriousness it warrants.
CONSEQUENCES OF PCOS CONDITION
The state of persistent immaturity of the eggs do create huge difficulties for the woman. As the eggs are neither matured nor released, at best, the woman may have haphazard menstrual periods. In the worst case scenario, a young woman in her reproductive age that is supposed to be having a regular menstrual period may not have her periods at all. In this condition, without ovulation or release of eggs, the woman becomes infertile and childless. It should be noted that a woman who is not having her periods gets unduly worried. This is in addition to the pressure that she undergoes from family and community.
PCOS generates its own symptoms because it changes the entire response of the woman. For a start, PCOS produces hormone called testosterone. Testosterone is found in large quantity in men. Normally, testosterone hormone is in small amount in women. In PCOS, testosterone is found in large quantities in some PCOS women. In normal conditions, its testosterone that makes men look like men: with hairs in the face and chest and abdomen and pimples in the face. Therefore, with PCOS, some women may have abnormal hair distribution on the face and chest or abdomen. Because women suffering from PCOS are not producing the female hormones as such, sex may become difficult.
In addition, some women may develop pimples on the face: again pimples is a generally an occurrence under the male hormone. This is not to say that all women that have pimples or facial hairs have PCOS. NO. There are other reasons for development of pimples. Furthermore, some PCOS women may become obese. Obesity of whatever cause is a negative factor for fertility. In some women, PCOS may be associated with diabetes mellitus disease.
Women in their reproductive age desiring children that suffer from obesity, abnormal body hairs, pimples, missing periods or lacking regular periods and finding getting pregnant difficult should consider the possibility of PCOS as the cause of their childlessness. You can take some measures to minimise the effect of PCOS. For one, reduce your weight to a reasonable level such as body- mass -index measurement of under 25. Eat natural foods consisting of vegetables, fish, some milk and fruits. Exercising regularly: not just to keep in shape, exercise has huge benefits in helping to keep PCOS under control. If these measures do not help, don’t delay, look for a fertility doctor or gynaecologist to assist you. Remember that if you have been trying to get pregnant for a year and it’s not working, it’s time to go see a fertility doctor.
(Sourced from the NATION)