HomeGynaecology CarePCOD (Polycystic Ovarian Disease) & PCOS : Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis, Diet &...

PCOD (Polycystic Ovarian Disease) & PCOS : Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis, Diet & Treatment

PCOD (Polycystic Ovarian Disease) is a medical condition in women, where the ovaries produce multiple immature eggs which, over time, become cysts on the ovaries.

What is Polycystic Ovary Disorder (PCOD)?

Ovaries are the reproductive organs of a female which control the menstrual cycle and the production of hormones like estrogen, progesterone, inhibin, relaxin etc. The accumulation of the eggs swells the ovary and makes it release large quantities of male hormone thus causing infertility. 

PCOD is a hormonal condition that affects approximately 5- 10% of women in their childbearing ages (12 to 45-years). While the prevalence of PCOD differs, it affects around 9% to 22% of Indian women. The numbers are about 2% to 7% in China and Sri Lanka.

In this condition, the hormones of a woman go out of balance which creates various symptoms, including the absence of ovulation, irregular menstrual cycle, difficulty conceiving, weight gain, acne, and hirsutism. PCOD, also known as PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome), if left untreated, can lead to further health complications, like diabetes, obesity, heart diseases, and high cholesterol.

Common Symptoms of PCOD/PCOS

The preliminary signs and symptoms of PCOD usually develop during the first cycle of menstruation at puberty. PCOD may also develop later due to increased weight over the years. 

There are various symptoms of PCOD. Some of the common signs are

  • Increased androgen levels. Excess male sex hormones may result in various physical manifestations, such as excess facial and body hair and male-pattern baldness.
  • Irregular periods. You may observe irregular periods or delayed menstrual cycle due to the abnormality in maturation of the egg.
  • Difficulty in getting pregnant due to irregular and delayed or failed ovulation. The hormone imbalance in the body prevent the follicles from maturing and releasing the egg, causing delayed or failed ovulation. This heavily affects the menstrual cycle and thereby your periods. Many women are diagnosed with PCOD when they visit the doctor regarding their unsuccessful attempts at getting pregnant.
  • Hair loss or excessive thinning of hair. This symptom, too, is due to the increased production of male hormones in the body.
  • Acne on the skin
  • Weight gain

What causes Polycystic Ovarian Disease (PCOD)?

Family History

There is a 50% possibility of getting PCOD among the women whose immediate female relatives suffer from PCOD. As you grow older, this PCOD may lead to Type 2 diabetes, as PCOD is a risk factor for developing Diabetes Till now, a single gene has not yet found to be the cause of PCOD, and it is likely to be complex and involve multiple genes.

Insulin resistance & Lifestyle

About 70% women with PCOD have peripheral insulin resistance. The pancreas produces insulin, which is a hormone to help the body use sugar from foods for energy. Due to insulin resistance the cells can’t use insulin properly and the body’s demand for insulin increases. To compensate, the pancreas makes more insulin.

Factors of Insulin Resistance:

  • Insulin resistance as a result of genetic factors
  • Insulin resistance as a result of being overweight (related to diet and inactivity)
  • A combination of both of these factors

Inflammation

PCOS can lead to increased levels of inflammation in women. And being overweight also can contribute to inflammation. Studies have shown in PCOD that excess inflammation is linked to higher androgen levels.

Weight

Sometimes, a higher weight may worsen insulin resistance and the symptoms of polycystic ovarian syndrome. Some women with PCOD report that they had never experienced symptoms such as menstrual irregularity or excessive hair growth and are a healthy weight. However, these symptoms only appear once they gain weight.

How PCOD is Diagnosed?

While there is no particular test to confirm PCOD, your doctor would 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
  • An ultrasound to check the appearance of your ovaries and the uterus

If you are diagnosed with PCOD, your doctor would suggest regular checkups.

What are some problems associated with PCOD?

Some complications can arise from PCOD. These include various diseases and medical conditions, such as

Studies also report that by the age of forty, approximately fifty per cent of women with PCOD would develop pre-diabetes or would already be diabetic, while many others would face infertility during their childbearing age.

Treatment for Polycystic Ovarian Disease?

The cure for PCOD is yet to be determined. However, with proper treatment and lifestyle modifications, you can manage the condition. Your healthcare team is likely to follow a multidisciplinary treatment approach for PCOD. It may include a gynecologist, endocrinologist, dietician, infertility expert, and dermatologist.

One of the most practical ways to manage and keep your symptoms in check is proper weight management. Did you know even if you can achieve 5% weight loss, it will make your treatment easy and more effective? Therefore, women who have PCOD must work out regularly and maintain a healthy lifestyle and diet. If you have this condition, make sure to cut on your carbohydrate and sugar and have more high fiber and high protein food.

Medications and Surgery to Treat PCOD.

Post-consultation, your doctor would recommend various medications to rectify your menstrual cycle. He may prescribe drugs such as

  • Combinatorial birth control pill. These pills contain progestin and estrogen that reduce the production of the male sex hormones and regulate your hormones that let follicles release the egg, form acne and excess hair growth.
  • Progestin therapy. Your doctor would advise you to take progestin for ten to fourteen days every month or two to regulate and correct your menstrual cycle in this medication.
  • Immature follicles treatment. Your doctor may also recommend immature follicle aspiration PCOS treatment to improve your endocrinology and decrease the number of follicles in the ovary, thus facilitating pregnancy.
  • Your doctor would prescribe drugs such as clomiphene, letrozole, metformin, and gonadotrophins to improve ovulation.
  • To help reduce increase hair growth, your doctor would prescribe various birth control pills, spironolactone, and eflornithine.
  • Although surgery is not the immediate options of choice, your doctor, in severe cases, may perform laparoscopic ovarian drilling, which would help trigger ovulation, that is the release of the egg from the ovaries.

Diet to Treat PCOD

While many lifestyle recommendations are suggested for those women suffering from PCOD, you are encouraged to follow a PCOD diet with low fat and carbohydrate content. This would prevent any sudden upsurge in your blood sugar levels and help you keep a check on your weight. Foods that may be included are

  • Natural, unprocessed food
  • Spinach, kale and other leafy vegetables
  • Foods high in fiber
  • Broccoli and cauliflower
  • Nuts and legumes
  • Fish
  • Whole grain
  • Low-fat dairy

What exercises are best for PCOD?

If you are suffering from PCOD, then your first task is to reduce your Body Mass Index (BMI). Various types of exercises that you could consider are

  • High-Intensity interval training (HIIT)
  • Cardiovascular workouts
  • Mind-body exercises
  • Strength training
  • Interval training

Conclusion

There is no clear cause for PCOD. However, early detection or diagnosis of PCOD will be constructive in relieving the symptoms as well as to reduce the complications involved.

PCOD treatment helps you to manage your concerns, including infertility, hirsutism, acne, immature follicles, or obesity. However, specific treatment might involve lifestyle changes or medication.

For more information about PCOD, visit or book an appointment with the Best Gynaecologist in India. You can know more about PCOD, its causes, symptoms and treatment.

Frequently Asked Questions(FAQs)

What is the difference between PCOD and PCOS?

PCODPCOS
A condition where smaller cysts, less in number grow on ovaries, which may recede in three months with lifestyle changes.A metabolic disorder wherein many cysts grow on both the ovaries, leading to ovaries stop releasing eggs.
A common disorder found in almost 10% of the women population across the world.A serious condition which can be diagnosed in about 0.2 to 2.5% of the total women population of the world.
Infertility issues can be cured with some changes in lifestyle and medications.Infertility issues are a bit more serious and even though pregnancy happens, risks of miscarriage and complications are high.
No serious complications on health.Can lead to serious diseases like diabetes, heart disease, cancer, high blood pressure etc.
Periods can be regular or delayed.Periods are always delayed or stopped.

How to overcome PCOD?

Although there is no exact cure for PCOD (Polycystic Ovary Disease), you can definitely manage your signs and symptoms for a better outcome. Here are some crucial pointers to consider to overcome Polycystic Ovarian Disease:

  • Maintaining a healthy weight is the key to managing PCOD. Weight loss can keep your androgen and insulin levels in check while restoring and regularizing your ovulation cycle.
  • Eat a balanced and healthy diet. If you are not sure what to eat and what to avoid, you can always contact a dietician to help with weight control and a healthy diet according to your weight loss plan.
  • Limit your carbohydrate intake. A high-carb and low-fat diet can increase your insulin levels. A low-carb diet is likely to help you manage your symptoms well. Add complex carbs to your diet. Get in touch with your doctor for better advice.
  • Exercise regularly. It will keep your blood sugar levels in control. In women with PCOS, daily physical activity can help prevent insulin resistance. So, make sure to squeeze in at least 30 minutes of exercise every day.
  • Medical assistance to reduce blood glucose levels, restoration of fertility and regular menstruation, effective treatment of acne, and the prevention of endometrial cancer are other measures that help weed out PCOD.

How to prevent PCOD?

In most cases, you cannot prevent PCOD. However, a healthy diet and lifestyle can prevent possible complications. Read through the pointers given below:

  • Are you overweight? If so, try shedding those extra pounds. It will improve your blood sugar and cholesterol levels while regularizing your menstrual cycles and restoring fertility.
  • Do you have diabetes, or are you prediabetic? If yes, get in touch with your doctor. Your doctor may prescribe medications to maintain insulin sensitivity and manage other symptoms.
  • Do you take birth control medications? Make sure to consult your doctor before popping contraceptive/birth control pills. Remember, only a doctor can give you the right advice.
  • Are you facing issues conceiving? If yes, get in touch with a fertility specialist. He/she may prescribe medications or alternatives like a surgical procedure to induce ovulation.

How to cure PCOD problems naturally, at home ? 

There are numerous methods to treat polycystic ovarian disease naturally. You can easily follow these at home without spending much. 

  • Exercise is the most useful and beneficial activity of the day. It avoids hormonal imbalance in our blood and keeps heart problems and diabetes away. Not to mention it reduces stress, one of the causes of PCOD. 
  • Weight loss has been proven to reduce the symptoms and risk of developing metabolic syndrome and hormone-related disorders. Only 5% body fat reduction can significantly help relieve PCOD. 
  • Diet change is recommended to avoid developing insulin resistance or diabetes due to PCOD. 
  • Focus on wholesome foods as these do not contain preservatives, chemicals, hormones, and artificial sugars. Add more fresh fruits, veggies, legumes, and whole grains to your diet while avoiding processed food products.
  • Make sure to have healthy portions of protein in your diet.
  • Add anti-inflammatory foods to your diet, including green leafy vegetables, tomatoes, olive, tree nuts, fatty fish, such as tuna and mackerel.
  • Eat iron-rich foods, including broccoli, spinach, dates, and eggs.
  • Magnesium-rich foods like bananas, spinach, almonds, and cashews are PCOS-friendly. Add these too.
  • Go for a high-fiber diet, including beans, lentils, pear, broccoli, etc.

Supplements are recommended as they are seen to improve the PCOD symptoms. Take selenium supplements, omega-3-fish oil, chromium, vitamin-D, vitamin-B complex, vitamin D plus calcium, and inositol.

References:

https://www.askapollo.com/physical-appointment/gynecologist
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PEYyr_Y18vg
https://www.apollohospitals.com/patient-care/health-and-lifestyle/understanding-investigations/ct-scan/

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Verified By Dr Rooma Sinha
MBBS, MD, DNB, FICOG & MICOG, PGDMLS, MNAMS, Practising in the field of Gynecology for over 25 years, she is a Senior Consultant and Minimal Access and Robotic Surgeon at Apollo Health City in Hyderabad, India. She is a dedicacted teacher and is Honorary Associate Professors, teaching and training young gynecologists both from India & Abroad.
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