Polycystic Ovarian Disease (PCOD): Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment
PCOD or Polycystic Ovarian Disease is a hormonal condition that affects 5%–10% of women. This is very common during their reproductive age. 9% – 22% of women suffer from the problem of PCOD in India. In our body, various hormones work in harmony to ensure the smooth functioning of all the systems.
In the condition of PCOD, the hormones of a woman go out of sync. This leads to various problems like irregular menses, infertility, weight gain, acne, and so on. If left untreated, this disorder can cause serious health problems in women like heart disease and diabetes.
What is PCOD?
PCOD stands for Polycystic Ovarian Disease, which is caused due to hormonal imbalance. Ovulation is a phase in the menstrual cycle which is the release of the egg from a woman’s ovary. Ovaries also produce a small number of androgens, which are the male reproductive hormone. In PCOD, the hormonal imbalance leads to excessive secretion of the male hormone. This causes a delay in periods and the formation of cysts in the ovaries. This disorder can also lead to a complete absence of ovulation, which may cause infertility in women.
Difference between PCOD and PCOS
People often use the terms PCOD and PCOS interchangeably. Though they have similar symptoms, they are very different from one another.
- PCOD is a hormonal disorder that one can manage easily with some changes in diet and lifestyle. PCOD is curable without medicines and treatment.
- PCOS, on the other hand, is an endocrinal problem. Women suffering from PCOS produce higher than usual amounts of male hormones androgens. This interferes with the development and release of the eggs.
- In PCOS, some eggs turn into cysts, which are little sacks filled with liquid. The cysts build up in the ovaries and disrupt the periods. They can also increase in size and block the ovaries completely. PCOS can lead to chronic health problems if not treated timely.
Causes of PCOD
The exact cause of PCOD is still unknown. It is a hormonal disorder and various reasons contribute to it. Some of the factors associated with PCOD are:
- High levels of inflammation
- High production of male hormones
- Unhealthy lifestyle
- Poor diet
- Lack of proper nutrition
- Excess Insulin
Symptoms of PCOD
Many women do not even realize that they are suffering from PCOD. It is very important to pay attention to these symptoms for an early diagnosis of the problem.
This is the most common symptom of PCOD. Irregular or scarce periods are the first sign of PCOD. Pay acute attention to your monthly cycle to detect PCOD.
2. Excessive Facial and Body Hair
Hirsutism is the condition of excessive hair growth on the face. In PCOD, ovaries secrete a huge amount of male hormone androgens and this leads to excessive hair growth in women.
3. Mood Swings
PCOD causes irregular periods and hormonal imbalance in the body. This hormonal imbalance leads to sudden mood swings.
PCOD messes with the hormones and results in various facial problems like acne. Excessive male hormones in the body lead to acne. Some women suffer from severe cystic acne due to PCOD.
5. Sudden Weight Gain
In PCOD, high levels of insulin and male hormones are produced in the body. This leads to sudden weight gain in women. Fat deposit in the lower abdomen area is a common symptom in PCOD.
6. Oily Skin
Due to hormonal imbalance, the skin also goes for a toss. It produces excessive amounts of sebum and causes acne.
7. Heavy Bleeding
Since the periods are irregular, the build-up of the uterine wall is more. This leads to heavier bleeding whenever the periods happen.
8. Hair Thinning
Most women with PCOD suffer from hair thinning on the crown. Some even suffer complete hair loss. This is due to hormonal imbalance in the body.
Women suffering from PCOD are at a higher risk of developing diabetes due to high insulin levels.
10. Skin Darkening
Darkening of the skin in the neck or around the private parts is a common symptom of PCOD.
Complications Due to PCOD
PCOD is a hormonal disorder and not a disease. However, early diagnosis can save you from later complications.
- Infertility – PCOD reduces the frequency of ovulation in women. It delays the periods and causes menstrual problems. All this can lead to infertility problems when a woman tries to get pregnant.
- Diabetes – PCOD causes insulin resistance in the body. If PCOD is not treated timely, it can cause diabetes.
- Heart Disease – PCOD leads to an increase in blood pressure. It can cause irregular heartbeat and other heart-related problems.
- Endometrial Cancer – Endometrium is the inner lining of the uterus. PCOD delays ovulation, and this increases the chances of endometrial cancer.
- Depression – Due to hormonal imbalance, many women suffer from depression during PCOD.
Treatment for PCOD
There is no specific medication to treat PCOD. Certain changes in lifestyle and diet can help manage it. Below are some ways to manage the condition of PCOD:
- Eat a healthy diet
- Avoid sugar and carbohydrates
- Eat more high fibre foods
- Eat lean protein-rich food
- Exercise regularly
- Be physically active
- Eat lots of fresh fruits and vegetables
- Avoid junk food and saturated fats
- Avoid estrogen boosting foods
- Sleep for at least 8 hours
- Practice yoga
- Keep yourself busy
- Manage stress better
Essential Nutrition Required in PCOD
Nutrition and diet play a major role in curing any disorder. Include the following nutrients in your daily diet to get rid of PCOD naturally.
- Vitamin B6 – It helps to maintain the hormone balance and is the key to control PCOD. Found in almonds, wild rice, milk, yogurt, eggs, Brussels sprouts, spinach, and soybeans.
- Vitamins B2, B3, B5, and B6 – Are particularly useful for controlling weight. Found in yeast, red meat, milk, eggs, beans, and green vegetables.
- Vitamin B5 – It helps to control fat metabolism and is helpful in weight loss. Found in avocados, yogurt, eggs, meat, and legumes.
- Vitamin B6 with B2 and B3 – Are necessary for normal thyroid hormone production. Found in chicken, turkey, tuna, salmon, Lentils sunflower seeds, cheese, brown rice, and carrots.
PCOD and Pregnancy
If your PCOD is under control, you can easily get pregnant. Women with PCOS and PCOD conceive naturally until the problem is too severe. However, while planning your pregnancy, do keep in mind that people with PCOD have limited ovarian capacity. The number of healthy eggs is considerably lower than other women who do not have PCOD.
Therefore, if you have PCOD, it is advisable to plan an early pregnancy. Advancing age affects the quality of the eggs and may lead to more complications in your case. Consult your gynecologist and plan accordingly.
PCOD is a growing disorder in women these days. Due to an unhealthy lifestyle, constant stress, poor diet, lack of physical exercise, many young women suffer from it. It has no specific treatment, but a few lifestyle changes can help you manage it well. You alone can diagnose PCOD for yourself at first. So, keep a track of your menstrual cycle. If you witness irregular periods, sudden weight gain, facial hair, or any other related symptom, visit your gynecologist at the earliest.
If at all you are diagnosed with PCOD, do not lose hope. It is curable. Just focus on maintaining a healthy lifestyle, eat a well-balanced diet rich in protein, keep yourself active, and do not stress. Stress is the biggest cause of hormonal imbalance in women. Do not stress and give your body all the care and nutrition that it deserves.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
A. Reducing weight is the key to cure PCOD. High-Intensity interval training (HIIT), cardiovascular workouts, mind-body exercises, strength training, and interval training are effective exercise options. You can also include brisk walking, running, and yoga in your exercise routine for added benefit.
A. Include natural, unprocessed foods like spinach, kale, and other leafy vegetables in your diet. Foods high in fiber like broccoli, cauliflower, nuts, legumes, fish, whole grain, and low-fat dairy are the best foods for PCOD. These foods are rich in iron, magnesium, protein, and fiber. They can help cure PCOD naturally.
A. Irregular periods, facial hair, sudden weight gain, acne, oily skin, hair fall are some of the main symptoms of PCOD. You may not experience all the symptoms as an individual body-type reacts differently to any disorder.
A. There is no particular test to confirm PCOD. Your doctor will discuss your medical history and perform a physical examination to confirm the condition. They may then recommend a pelvic examination, Blood tests to quantify hormone levels, and an ultrasound to check the appearance of your ovaries and the uterus.
A. Keep your body weight within healthy limits. It helps restore ovulation by keeping the levels of androgen and insulin in check. Exercise daily to keep your body weight under control. Eat a balanced and healthy diet. Avoid eating junk food. Add iron, magnesium, protein, vitamins, and fibre to your diet. Avoid stress.
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