Did you know COVID 19 could result in hormonal imbalance and PCOS among women? An expert gynaecologist answers
Dr Meenakshi Banerjee, Obstetrics and Gynaecologist explains how women are more prone to hormonal imbalance and PCOS during the pandemic.
The pandemic has left us all concerned about our health and fitness. While we are all staying at home and adopting precautionary measures to avoid COVID-19, there’s a much greater risk to women. While staying at home can be liberating to some, uncertainty and stress can create a lot of hormonal issues among women. So, we spoke to Dr Meenakshi Banerjee, Obstetrics and Gynaecologist at Madhukar Rainbow Children Hospital to guide us through the scare and everything you need to be aware of.
How does the Coronavirus scare trigger hormonal imbalance?
COVID pandemic has brought the world to an edge of stress and anxieties compelling the world come to a virtual standstill at the start. The risk of getting infected and spreading infections to the susceptible age groups has resulted in limited activities. CORONAVIRUS scare has made the management of many endocrine disorders difficult due to the reduced visits to the hospital in order to avoid catching the infection. The treatments of these disorders have taken a backseat with management using video consultation instead of a physical visit to the hospital.
How prone are women to get PCOD and other hormonal disorders?
PCOS aka Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome is the most frequent endocrine disorder among women of reproductive age group. The syndrome consists of symptoms like menstrual irregularities, weight gain, acne and metabolic disorders like diabetes, hypertension and abnormal lipid profile. Though the women with PCOS belong to an age group and sex, which are at lower risk of COVID 19 but the associated metabolic disorders, obesity makes them more prone to severe COVID 19 symptoms.
Do PCOD women need to be scared if they get COVID?
Emerging data from the research worldwide has shown the risk of COVID 19 with certain factors like hyper inflammation, ethnicity, low Vitamin D levels and hyper androgens all of these also have a known direct association with PCOS. Therefore, where on one side we are looking at the restricted exercises, increased mental stress, metabolic factors to be making PCOS women more prone to severe COVID risk, reduced processed foods, younger age groups offer a good recovery. In a nutshell PCOS women who are obese and have associated diabetes or hypertension are at the edge of the severe COVID 19 risk.
As far as the management of PCOS in this COVID situation is concerned, there is also a need to be individualized. PCOS patients who are on off label, use of metformin can be advised. Stop metformin in case they are infected with COVID to decrease the risk of severe infection.
The women on insulin need to change their doses as clinically indicated and obese PCOS women using CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) for obstructive sleep apnea can continue the use it but, particularly in cases of home self-isolation due to suspected or confirmed COVID-l9, these patients should consider either taking strict quarantine measures from other household members (e.g., use of separate bedrooms and bathrooms where feasible) or discontinuing CPAP therapy for a short period due to the potential risk of SARS-CoV-2 aerosolized transmission from the CPAP use. During any such temporary CPAP therapy discontinuation, sedating medications and alcohol should be avoided.
What mental health issues should women be aware of?
Women with PCOS also exhibit a higher risk for mental health problems (e.g., anxiety and depression). Such problems may be triggered and/or exacerbated in the setting of the COVID-19 pandemic (e.g., due to issues relating to prolonged shielding, isolation, job insecurity, and fear of ill health).
Women with PCOS often get fragmented health care hence in this pandemic situation our aim should be to give individualized care to these women, identify women at high risk and guide them medically and support them mentally in these difficult times.
- Inputs by: Dr Meenakshi Banerjee, Obstetrics and Gynaecologist at Madhukar Rainbow Children Hospital