HomeGynaecology CarePolycystic Ovary Disorder (PCOD) – Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

Polycystic Ovary Disorder (PCOD) – Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

What is Polycystic Ovary Disorder?

Polycystic Ovarian Disease (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. It leads to various symptoms, including the absence of ovulation, irregular menstrual periods, 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 abnormal levels of hormones 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 Diagnosis?

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

  • Various metabolic syndromes, including high blood pressure, cardiovascular diseases, increased cholesterol and blood glucose levels.
  • Miscarriages
  • Infertility
  • Gestational diabetes
  • Sleep apnea
  • Type 2 Diabetes
  • Depression and other mental disorders
  • Endometrial cancer
  • Abnormal uterine bleeding
  • Untreatable acne, displaying hormonal problems
  • Chronic Liver inflammation

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 PCOD?

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.

  1. 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.
  1. Diet to Treat PCOD. While many lifestyle recommendations are suggested for those women suffering from PCOD, you are encouraged to follow a 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
  2. 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?

PCOS is a syndrome wherein many cysts (sacs filled with liquids) begin to grow on both the ovaries of women. They are big and are often made out of immature eggs as well as other secretions. Owing to this, women face issues in having periods. Sometimes they do not have them at all or or else, they are unreliable and delayed. Generally, this gets identified in teenagers, mostly at the first period itself.

While, on the other hand, PCOD has similar implications on the ovary however, they are minor in nature. Smaller cysts are formed on ovaries that can recede within three months (change in lifestyle needed) and are less in number as well. In PCOD, periods are normal and sometimes, delayed. PCOD gets detected when a woman of childbearing age is not able to conceive.

  • PCOD is more prevalent than PCOS. Around 1/3rd of women worldwide have PCOD. PCOS cases are lower than PCOD.
  • PCOD is less likely to cause infertility. In around 80% of cases of PCOD, women can get pregnant with a little medical assistance. PCOS makes conception slightly difficult due to hormonal dysfunction.

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 PCOD:

  • 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. A dietician can guide you to achieve this.
  • 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.

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 reduce PCOD?

There are three key things to remember when managing the symptoms of PCOD. They are:

Keep your body weight within healthy limits. It helps restore ovulation by keeping the levels of androgen and insulin in check.

Exercise daily. If you have PCOD or PCOS, working out every day will ensure that your body weight is under control. When your weight is appropriate, your body can avoid many health complications and risks that it fails to deter otherwise.

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.

How to control PCOD? 

PCOD is a hormonal disorder that may enlarge the ovaries and cause a small cyst on the outer edges. The reason for this illness is not yet understood well. However, several genetic, environmental, and lifestyle aspects contribute to its development. 

The best methods to control PCOD through lifestyle changes are: 

  • Your doctor may recommend you to lose weight through a low-calorie diet plan accompanied by moderate exercise. Losing weight will improve your health. It is effective in PCOD and to avoid infertility. 
  • Reduce carbs. If not required, eliminate them. Low fat and high carbohydrate meals pose high insulin risks. Opt for complex carbohydrates instead of simple carbs. This will ensure your blood sugar level rises slowly and gradually. 
  • Keep yourself active. If you do so, your blood sugar levels will be under control. PCOS and daily activity should go hand in hand to prevent diabetes and control weight. 

How to cure PCOD problems naturally? 

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 balances the hormones 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. You must have a high fiber diet with a lot of fruits and vegetables. Avoid sugar and junk food. 
  • 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. 

How to get rid of PCOD?

PCOD (Polycystic Ovarian Disease) is a hormonal disorder that mainly affects women, causing enlarged ovaries with multiple small cysts on the outer edges. Excessive hair growth, obesity, acne, and menstrual irregularity are some of its symptoms. Although a direct and quick treatment for PCOD is yet to be determined, a multidisciplinary approach, including lifestyle and diet modifications, to manage individual concerns, infertility, acne, and obesity is popular.

The best measure to control this condition is proper weight management. Besides controlling high blood pressure, cholesterol, and diabetes, even a 5% weight reduction is found to address hormonal discrepancy significantly. 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 cure PCOD problems at home?

Maintaining a healthy weight, making lifestyle and dietary changes, and staying active are the best ways to manage PCOD. Besides these, you can try to cure PCOD problems at home through the following:

  • Eating the right foods and eliminating certain ingredients from your diet can help you manage your PCOD symptoms. 
  • 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.

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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