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PCOS IN ADOLESCENTS : AN ENIGMA

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The alarming number of young adolescent girls walking into my clinic accompanied by thier frantic parents carrying a diagnosis of PCOS has triggered me into writing this blog.

Plenty has been written about PCOS, but often the numerous queries ringing in the minds of these young girls remain unanswered. I have always been very partial to my adolescent patients, so much so that I am often teased by my assistants for spending extra time with them in my clinic. I am fully convinced that these are the patients who need proper counselling and management.

PCOS affects 6-10 % of the population and is prevalent in all age groups. In a broad sense it is an endocrine disorder with various manifestations. The main criteria for diagnosing it is Irregular periods, excessive hair growth over the face and detection of tiny cysts in the ovaries on ultrasound scan.

Before branding an adoloscent as PCOS, all the criteria should be met by performing all the relevant tests. Many of the symptoms of PCOS is mimicked during the normal pubertal development like irregular periods and acne. Thus it is of utmost importance to make a proper diagnosis.

Often parents are given the scare that thier daughter is going to be infertile, which is absolutely wrong. If the condition is managed properly, the PCOS girls can have babies, sometimes with the help of treatment. PCOS also often gets blamed for causing abdominal pain which again is not true. In a young adolescent with PCOS and abdominal pain, other reasons for the pain should also be investigated.

Regarding the role of medications in PCOS, parents are often reluctant to administer medicines to thier young children. I can categorically say that lifestyle changes and exercise is usually sufficient to control the symptoms and to prevent its progression. The adolescents have to be counselled regarding proper healthy diet and avoid all junk foods. At the same time a certain group of adolescents will definitely require medications which are quite safe and will help prevent long term complications of PCOS.

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