Polycystic Ovarian Disease (PCOD), also known as Stein-Leventhal syndrome, refers to a hormonal disease in women of childbearing ages (15 to 45 years) and is characterised by the release of either immature or partially-mature eggs from the ovaries.
If left untreated at the right time, PCOD can eventually develop into follicular cysts, leading to a list of complications affecting a woman’s fertility and body. So, almost all cases of PCOD may require immediate medical consultation.
Read on to learn more about PCOD, its causes, symptoms and its possible effect on a women's health.
What Causes PCOD?
The primary cause of PCOD is unknown, but it has been observed to be associated with genetics and environmental factors.
Other common factors that can contribute to the development of PCOD include:
- Hyperandrogenism: Excess level of androgen, a hormone responsible for the development of male traits.
- Hyperinsulinemia: Excess secretion of insulin, a hormone that controls blood glucose levels.
- Luteal phase defect: Low secretion of progesterone, a hormone that regulates mensuration and pregnancy.
- High levels of inflammation.
What are the Symptoms of PCOD?
Not everyone will experience the same type of PCOD symptoms. It can often be challenging to differentiate it from regular mensural bleeding. So, it is always better to be aware of the signs of PCOD.
Some common signs and symptoms attributed to PCOD include:
- Skipped or Irregular periods
- Sudden weight gain, especially around the abdomen
- Ovarian cysts (lump filled with liquid)
- Enlarged or swollen ovary
- Hirsutism: Excess hair growth on the face and body
- Male pattern baldness
- Chronic fatigue
- Mood swings
- Infertility problems
- Hyperpigmentation: Dark patches on the back of the neck or armpit
- Painful periods
The symptoms mentioned above do not necessarily indicate PCOD, but they may also be. The only way to know for sure is to seek consultation from an obstetric and gynaecologist or women's health specialist.
How is PCOD Treated?
The severity of PCODs dictates the nature of the treatment procedure. For mild to moderate cases of PCODs, lifestyle changes and dietary modification are recommended.
For severe cases, the treatment may involve a combination of lifestyle changes and following recommendations.
- Birth control pills: Such pills, a skin patch, vaginal shots, a ring, or a hormonal intrauterine device may help control hormonal imbalance and menstrual irregularities.
- Progestin Therapy: Progesterone medications can help counter the complications of immature or partially mature eggs released from the ovary. It also helps with conception and pregnancy.
- Laparoscopy procedure: Laparoscopy is a minimally invasive surgical procedure. Although not commonly used for PCOD treatment, laparoscopy can be a treatment option for patients with severe ovarian cysts.
It is important to consult a gynaecologist and surgeon to know about nonsurgical alternatives before the laparoscopy procedure. Fertility hospitals and specialists provide more guidance on alternative treatment options.
When to Consult a Doctor for PCOD?
As a general rule, the following symptoms may require immediate medical attention:
- Heavy periods
- Chronic abdominal pain
- Sudden weight gain
- Painful urination
- Physiological concern
- Increased hair growth in unwanted areas
You can request an appointment at Apollo Fertility, Kondapur, for a consultation by calling 1860-500-4424.
Polycystic Ovarian Disease (PCOD) is a relatively common condition in women of reproductive age, but it can have a significant physical and physiological impact on women's health. Fortunately, most PCOD cases can be treated with some extra precautions, medications and minimal medical intervention.
Women are more likely to develop PCOD if they have the following: o Sedentary lifestyle o Obesity or overweight o Unhealthy eating habits o Stress o Sleep apnea o Family history of PCOD problems o Diabetes o Use of certain prescription medications during reproductive years
While there is no definite way to prevent PCOD, adopting healthy lifestyle changes may manage symptoms. This include: o Scheduling regular physician visits during reproductive years o Keeping check of blood pressure, sugar levels and thyroid o Eating healthily o Staying physically active o Including Omega-rich diet
The common PCOD-related complications include: o Hypertension o Gestational diabetes mellitus (diabetes that develops during pregnancy) o Type-2 diabetes mellitus o Mood disorders o Cardiovascular risk factors o Uterine cancer o Premature birth o Thyroid diseases o Miscarriage o Infertility/ Reduced fertility
While there is no specific test to confirm PCOD, the general physician would evaluate the medical history and perform a physical examination to exclude other conditions with similar signs to PCOD. In rare cases, the following tests may be recommended: o Hormonal blood tests: These tests can help evaluate the levels of androgen and other essential hormones affecting the ovaries. o Ultrasound scan: Ultrasound images can provide a closer look at the ovaries and help diagnose polycystic ovaries. o Pelvic exam: Just like a regular check-up, the pelvic exam check for signs of cyst growth in the vagina, uterus and ovaries.
The hormonal imbalance caused by PCOD can interfere with reproductive processes, and therefore can affect pregnancy. With infertility treatment and lifestyle changes, most women with PCOS will be able to get pregnant.