PCOD is a condition that affects a woman’s ovaries causing hormonal imbalance in the body. Other than the common symptoms such as menstrual irregularity, obesity or acne, this condition can even trigger serious problems like diabetes, infertility and heart disease.
It is estimated that PCOD affects around 5-10% of women in their childbearing ages of 12-45 years. A recent study revealed that around 1 in 5 women in India are affected by this hormonal condition. Thus, it is quite widespread among women.
What is PCOD?
Polycystic ovarian disorder (PCOD), also known as Stein-Leventhal syndrome, is a condition that affects women of reproductive age. It affects the ovaries by developing cysts. Ovaries are the female reproductive organs that produce hormones and control the menstrual cycle. Women with PCOD experience hormonal imbalances as the ovaries release an excess amount of male sex hormone, androgen. This can lead to irregular periods and infertility. In this condition, the ovaries may fail to release eggs regularly. PCOD can even result in serious diseases like heart disease, obesity, and diabetes if ignored.
Common symptoms of PCOD
The symptoms of PCOD are usually mild in the beginning and develop during the first menstrual cycle at puberty. However, the symptoms can also appear later in life. Most women do not realize that they are suffering from PCOD, which is why all women need to know the common signs and symptoms of PCOD.
- Increased androgen levels: The hormonal imbalance in PCOD is caused by the release of large quantities of androgen, which can cause excess facial and body hair and male-pattern baldness in women.
- Irregular periods: The most common symptom of PCOD is irregular menstruation or delayed period cycles. This happens because the excess male hormone prevents ovulation.
- Heavy bleeding: Irregular or delayed periods lead to a build-up of the uterine wall causing heavier bleeding during menses.
- Hair loss: Apart from excessive hair growth, one can also experience thinning of hair due to the increased production of male hormones.
- Acne: Excess male hormones cause the skin to secrete more oil resulting in acne.
- Weight gain: Most women suffering from PCOD are obese or overweight.
- Difficulty in getting pregnant: The hormone imbalance prevents the egg from releasing and maturing, resulting in failed ovulation.
Causes of PCOD
The exact cause of PCOD is not yet known. However, some factors contributing to it are as follows:
- Genetic makeup: If anyone in the family had PCOD, there is a 50% chance that a related female might also suffer from it. As women age, PCOD can lead to Type 2 diabetes.
- Insulin resistance: Most women with PCOD have insulin resistance that can be due to genetic factors or a result of being overweight.
- Obesity: Being overweight can worsen insulin resistance and enhance the symptoms of PCOD.
- High levels of inflammation: Research has shown that excess inflammation is linked to higher androgen levels, which can lead to PCOD.
When to see a doctor:
Most women suffering from PCOD experience mild symptoms in the beginning. Those symptoms are often ignored until they become extreme like infertility or heart disease at the later stage of a woman’s life. If diagnosed early, dietary changes and small lifestyle modifications can help in managing the condition to a large extent. Thus, all women should be made aware of the symptoms and visit a doctor as soon as they experience any of these.
Apollo Fertility, Amritsar, has the best and most experienced doctors, offering a wide array of services. Book an appointment to find solutions to specific problems.
Treatment for PCOD
There is no cure for PCOD at present. However, women can manage the condition with adequate treatment and lifestyle changes. It can be diagnosed with ultrasound and blood tests. A multidisciplinary treatment approach can be adopted to manage the condition.
- One of the best ways to control the symptoms is to manage body weight. Losing weight can make PCOD treatment more effective. Small lifestyle changes such as eating a healthy diet and regular exercise can help in weight management.
- Birth control pills and hormonal medication can be taken to reduce the production of male hormones.
- Doctor-prescribed drugs to improve ovulation.
- A diet low in fat and carbohydrate is recommended for women with PCOD.
Since no cure for PCOD is known, it is best diagnosed as early as possible. It will help in relieving the symptoms and reduce further complications. Women experiencing any of the above symptoms must consult a doctor immediately to manage the disorder.
If one is experiencing symptoms like irregular periods, heavy bleeding during periods, acne, increased facial and body hair growth, and sudden weight gain, there is a high chance they have PCOD.
Yes, PCOD does affect women's fertility. Due to hormonal imbalance, the ovaries may produce a large number of follicles and fail to release eggs regularly. This reduces the frequency of ovulation or leads to failed ovulation, which causes difficulty in getting pregnant.
Yes, PCOD has been observed to run in families. There is a 50% chance of suffering from PCOD if anyone in the family has/had it.
Women with PCOD are encouraged to follow a diet low in fats and carbohydrates. This can include fibre-rich food, nuts and legumes, spinach and leafy vegetables, fish, broccoli, cauliflower, and low-fat dairy.
The severity of PCOD varies from person to person. It can be managed to a large extent with proper diet and exercise.