What is PCOD?
Polycystic Ovary Disease (PCOD) is a disease in which a woman's ovaries produce immature mature eggs in large numbers during reproductive age and these eggs develop into cysts in the ovaries over time. Due to the cysts, the ovaries become large and secrete large amounts of male hormones (androgens) which causes fertility problems, irregular periods, unwanted weight gain, and other health issues.
The common symptoms of PCOD
The most common symptoms of PCOD include:
- Irregular menstrual cycles: Irregularities in ovulation leads to irregular periods in women with PCOD
- Excessive hair and acne: Women often experience excessive hair growth on their faces and bodies
- Acne: Excess androgen makes the skin oilier causing breakouts
- Weight gain: Insulin resistance leads to rapid weight gain and difficulty in losing that weight
- Heavy and/or painful periods: Extremely painful periods along with heavy bleeding, nausea, lower back pain, and fatigue can be often seen in women with PCOD
- Skin darkening: PCOD can lead to acanthosis nigricans. This causes darkening of the skin around the neck, armpit and other creases of the body
- Difficulty in getting pregnant: The delayed or failed ovulation in PCOD often makes it difficult for women to get pregnant
- Depression: Many women with PCOD also experience symptoms of depression, mood swings, and low self-confidence, which can hamper their normal eating and sleep patterns
What causes PCOD?
The exact cause of PCOD remains unclear. But doctors believe that it can be influenced by a sedentary lifestyle, environmental factors, and several over-the-counter (OTC) medications and supplements. Genetic factors, insulin resistance and the presence of inflammation can also lead to PCOD.
How is PCOD diagnosed?
The doctors carry out a pelvic examination after discussing the medical history and symptoms. The following tests may also be recommended:
- Pelvic ultrasound/USG for observing the cysts in the ovaries and measuring the lining of the uterus
- Blood tests for checking the levels of hormones, glucose, cholesterol, and triglycerides
Treatment options for PCOD
Lifestyle modifications are often the first line of treatment that doctors suggest for treating PCOD. The treatment often involves a doctor suggesting medications depending on the age, the severity of the symptoms and overall health.
The most common treatment options include one or more of the following options:
- Lifestyle change: It is recommended to maintain a normal body mass index (BMI) of less than 18.5 to 24.9. Maintaining a healthy body weight helps in managing the symptoms of PCOD. Women with PCOD should also limit their intake of excess or complex carbohydrates, follow a regular exercise regimen, and maintain an active lifestyle.
- Medications: The doctors may prescribe one or more of the following options:
- Hormonal birth control pill containing progestin and estrogen to regulate the hormones
- Progestin therapy to regulate the menstrual cycle
- Immature follicular treatment to reduce the number of follicles in the ovaries
- Medicines like clomiphene, letrozole, metformin, and gonadotrophins to improve ovulation
- Birth control pills, spironolactone, and eflornithine to reduce increased hair growth
- Surgical options are often not required. In severe cases, the doctors may perform laparoscopic ovarian drilling to trigger normal ovulation
When to see a doctor?
It is important to consult a doctor in case of:
- Missed periods or periods with heavy bleeding
- Presence of PCOD symptoms like weight gain, excessive hair growth and acne on the face and body, etc
- Difficulty in getting pregnant after trying to conceive for 12 months or longer
Request an appointment at
Apollo Fertility, Varanasi
Call 1860-500-4424 to book an appointment
Although there is no permanent cure for PCOD at this moment, most women with PCOD can lead relatively normal and active lives. This can be done through lifestyle and health management. It is important to be in touch with doctors and keep a positive attitude.
Try to eat healthy and nutritious food. Avoid processed food, refined carbohydrates, fast food and packaged drinks. Foods like cakes, white bread, pizza, burger, chaat, biriyani, pizza, burgers, cold drinks, etc should be avoided.
PCOD interrupts the normal menstrual cycle and makes it harder to get pregnant. However, women with PCOD can get pregnant naturally through lifestyle modifications and also with the help of fertility treatments that improve ovulation. Losing weight, lowering blood sugar levels and destressing through yoga can also improve your chances of having a healthy pregnancy.
Mild to moderate acne can be treated using over-the-counter (OTC) acne medications such as benzoyl peroxide, salicylic acid, and sulfur. However, hormonal acne requires the treatment of the underlying hormonal imbalance. For acne related to PCOD, the doctor or dermatologists may prescribe oral contraceptives, anti-androgen drugs or retinoids.