26 years old Saima (name changed) is sitting in the waiting room outside the clinic of a very renowned gynaecologist, located in the heart of Srinagar, Lal Chowk. Saima is not the only one there, there are around more than twenty patients waiting, most of them young girls. Their ages ranging from teenagers to young women. Saima like many other young girls is suffering from PCOD also known as PCOS. And it is not her first time visiting the doctor. Saima says she visits the doctor every week who gives her a list of tests to do.
PCOS which is also known as PCOD polycystic ovary syndrome also known as a disease the case of PCOD is a condition that is caused by hormonal imbalance which results in the enlargement of ovaries with cysts on the surface. It can result in irregular or abnormal periods. Can be the cause of the growth of facial hair and in some cases, a cause of baldness as well. Some researches show that more than 10% of women in the world are suffering from PCOD and in India, more than one million cases are reported every year.
The age groups that are affected are enlisted below:-
- Teenagers (14-18 years): common
- Young adults (19-40 years): common
- Adults (41-60 years): common
- Seniors (60+ years): rare
PCOS can have serious psychological effects on women or girls suffering from it. According to some reports published by some renowned health websites, PCOS can be a cause of low self-esteem, severe depression, anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder and bipolar disorder in women suffering from it.
A young girl on the grounds of anonymity got in a conversation with Ground Report to talk about her own experience with the condition, ” Personally with me I got PCOS in 2016 it was very bad because I had acne all over my face and it also made me gain a lot of weight.” She further added, “I have tried multiple diets like no-carb diet, intermittent fasting etc. but that does not help eventually because If I do not have carbs I tend to get a lot of mood swings and then the mind does not respond well with the body.”
Explaining further she said, “With PCOS there are so many myths related like a people tell you that you might not be able to conceive and what not. PCOS makes you very moody it makes you lethargic you feel tired even when you have just woken up it makes you crave carbs a lot and some people have the problem of facial hair some people have insulin resistance there are so many types of PCOS and it is not generic at all.”
She also went on saying, “The only thing doctors prescribe you are hormonal medicines or birth control pills that mess up your body, and is so bad.” She hopefully concluded, “But I hope people become more sensitive towards it and in a society like ours where going to a gynaecologist is a still very difficult for most of the girls because of the taboos related to it. I feel we have come a long way but We still have to overcome all the fares and taboos related to it.”
Another young girl in her initial twenties on the ground of anonymity while talking to Ground Report revealed how mentally exhausting PCOS is.
“I was diagnosed with PCOS last year. I have been suffering since. My periods are irregular. There is a growth of facial hair. My friends tease me for this. I suffer silently. I have to endure all of this. I have no other choice,” she said. ” This year I was like aiming to fast throughout the holy month of Ramadhan but to my dismay. It was like in the beginning ashra of Ramadhan when I woke up for sehri and I saw that I was on my periods. So I did not fast. But for the next two days I was not on my periods so I washed up and I continued to fast but in the coming next few days, I again got my periods and I was so angry, frustrated, and irritated, I guess all the negative emotions were pumping inside me,” she recalled.
“Because of all these things going on, I have started having so many negative thoughts. I think about it a lot and I feel like my mind my body is getting affected alot. I question myself alot, I did not have this facial hair before but now I have it. I do not feel fine at all. My mental health is not good,” she added.
“When initially I was diagnosed with it I was out on medication for like about three months. So after that whole medication process, my periods became regular so I thought it was gone. And I gave up the medication. But for past couple of months, mujhae phirsae irregularities aarahi hai periods mae toh I went to see a doctor. They ran tests and the results show that my PCOS has increased. I have again been put on medication and doctor said PCOS is just like BP you can control it but not cure it. It can be controlled by medicines,” she concluded.
According to the national task force of the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), the prevalence of Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) among Kashmiri women is above 30% by Rotterdam Criteria, which is likely the highest percentage globally. According to official estimates, 33.3 percent of Kashmiri women meet the Rotterdam Criteria for PCOS, which indicates that two of the three symptoms of PCOS, anovulation, hyperandrogenism, or polycystic ovaries, must be evident on an ultrasound of a woman with PCOS.
A young girl has some perfect words to share, “PCOS is as common as any other condition. It however is tabooed and still things are being said. One of the most common comment I hear in the context of my PCOS are, yaar maenae suna hai jisko PCOD hota hai unko jald sae jald Shaadi karni chahiyae, (I have heard girls suffering from PCOD should get married as soon as possible.) It is one of the most common myth, as well as one of the worst taboo prevalent here in Kashmir. People need to understand that PCOS is a serious thing, and people need to sensitise their approach towards this condition.”