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Understanding PCOD: What is Polycystic Ovary Syndrome?

Body:

One of the most common hormonal disorders in women during their reproductive age, polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) affects fertility and increases the risk of pregnancy complications in women. The condition is more common in women with obesity or those who have a family history of PCOS. However, most women do not know that they have symptoms of PCOD or PCOS. It happens when a woman’s adrenal glands or ovaries make more male hormones than normal. Also, in women with PCOD (Polycystic Ovarian Disease), the ovaries release only partially mature or immature eggs, leading to the growth of cysts (little sacs filled with liquid). While PCOD can lead to health issues like obesity, type 2 diabetes, and mental stress due to hormonal imbalance, women with PCOS are at risk of developing health complications, such as heart disease, fertility, high blood pressure, and metabolic syndrome.

What is PCOD?

Polycystic Ovarian Disease, or PCOD, is a condition that affects the ovaries in women by causing cysts. In this condition, women’s ovaries produce partially mature or mature eggs in large numbers. It makes ovaries large and releases a huge amount of androgens (male hormones), causing irregular menstrual cycles, weight gain, infertility, and other issues. The onset of PCOD begins from the first menstrual period and lasts up to the menopause. PCOD can be managed by healthy diet and lifestyle changes.

Symptoms of PCOD

While most women start experiencing symptoms of PCOD during their first period, others may find it out once they start having obesity or difficulty getting pregnant. Some of the most common symptoms of polycystic ovaries syndrome are:

  • Heavy bleeding
  • Irregular periods
  • Facial hair growth
  • Acne and spots on the face and chest
  • Weight gain or obesity
  • Skin darkening
  • Hair loss (Male pattern baldness)
  • Headaches
  • Sleep disorders

Causes of Polycystic Ovary Syndrome

While genetics play a significant role in causing PCOD or PCOS, several other factors could also be the reasons for PCOD. These include:

Hormone Imbalance

Women with polycystic ovary syndrome have excess of androgen hormones, which can lead to hirsutism (hair growth on the face and body) and acne. Additionally, they may also have an increased level of some other hormones, including:

Insulin – A specific hormone responsible for the utilisation of energy from food, insulin in excess amounts can cause problems with ovulation. It leads to an increased level of androgen production, which is a male hormone causing acne and hair loss.

 

Luteinising hormone – Also called LH, Luteinising hormone is a chemical in the body that is involved in many functions in the reproductive system. A pituitary hormone, LH, affects the hormone production in the ovaries and the process of normal ovulation.

 

Oestrogen – Also called estrogen, Oestrogen is an ovarian hormone, responsible for stimulating the growth of the female reproductive system.

 

Anti-müllerian Hormone – A protein hormone, anti-müllerian hormone is made by reproductive tissues, including the ovaries in women and testicles in males.

Low-Grade Inflammation

Women with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome often have low-grade inflammation in their bodies. Also, obesity or weight gain can increase the inflammation. An increased level of inflammation is related to excess androgen levels. A CRP (C-reactive protein) test can detect the level of inflammation in the body.

Family History

Women have higher chances of developing PCOS if they have a close family member – their mother or sister with the same condition. 

Lifestyle Habits

Poor lifestyle choices and habits are major contributing factors to any disease, including PCOD/PCOS. Poor sleep schedule, stress, sedentary lifestyle, unhealthy foods, etc., can lead to hormonal imbalance and Polycystic Ovary Syndrome.

Complications of Polycystic Ovary Syndrome

A higher level of androgen levels can affect the overall health of a woman. If left untreated, PCOS or PCOD can lead to many severe health problems that will require immediate attention. These include:

  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Depression and anxiety
  • Endometrial cancer
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • High blood pressure
  • Sleep apnea
  • Endometrial cancer
  • Miscarriage
  • Preterm labour and premature birth

Diagnosis of PCOD / PCOS

The visible signs and symptoms of PCOD or PCOS could be similar to other diseases. Thus, doctors use a series of tests to detect the exact condition. Some of the common PCOS or PCOD tests include:

Symptoms and Medical History

The first thing a gynaecologist will do is to ask about the concerns, medical history, and symptoms of PCOD or PCOS from the patient. They will also ask about medications, allergies, period regularity, etc. Also, depending on symptoms such as excess hair growth on a woman’s face and skin, irregular periods and hair fall, the doctor will ask about eating and drinking habits, over-the-counter medications or taking any supplements.

Physical Examination

A physical check-up of the reproductive organs for any growth of cysts and abnormalities will be done to confirm the condition.

Imaging Test

An imaging test like ultrasound is done to check the size of ovaries, cysts, and the lining of the uterus. The ultrasound test uses advanced technology to create images of reproductive organs, tissues, and blood vessels to give a better idea about the condition.

Blood Tests

Blood tests help doctors to assess hormone levels, especially if the signs include hair growth and weight gain. The doctor prescribes one or some of the blood tests, depending on the symptoms. These blood tests include:

  • TSH, T3, and T4
  • Serum Prolactin or hCG
  • Hormone Tests (Testosterone, FSH, LH, Estrogen, Androgen)

Additionally, the doctor might recommend some other tests to check for the severity of the condition. These include:

  • Check-up for Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA)
  • Screening for stress and depression
  • Periodical check-ups for blood pressure, cholesterol level, and glucose tolerance

PCOD Treatment

The treatment plan for PCOD problems focuses on resolving different problems associated with the condition, such as hirsutism, infertility, acne, hair fall, irregular periods, weight gain, etc. The treatment begins with lifestyle changes and weight management. Based on the symptoms like metabolic disorder, hair growth on the face, etc., the treatment may include:

  • Treatment for infertility through fertility drugs
  • Medicines for regulating the menstrual cycle by curing insulin resistance and hormonal imbalance issues
  • Reducing hair growth on the face and skin
  • Skin treatments for pigmentation and acne
  • Medicines and injections to improve the quality and quantity of ovulation
  • A laparoscopic procedure
  • The treatment may also involve ovarian drilling to terminate androgen-producing tissues

Lifestyle Changes for PCOD / PCOS

The condition of polycystic ovaries syndrome can be managed through some lifestyle changes and home remedies. These include:

Weight Management

For most women, obesity or weight is the major factor that affects their hormones. So, women should work on their weight and try to bring their hormone levels to the normal range. Weight management can also help the menstrual cycle to become more regular, increasing pregnancy chances.

Workout

Exercise is the best way to burn calories and improve your muscle mass. A routine workout can also help you reduce insulin resistance, lowering the androgen hormones in the body. It can help in managing PCOS.

Managing Blood Sugar

Women with polycystic ovaries syndrome also have insulin resistance. It is a condition in which the body does not properly utilise the insulin. Following a low-carb diet plan can help in balancing insulin levels.

PCOD/PCOS Diet

A healthy diet is the most important factor in managing PCOD symptoms. Having a healthy diet containing healthy fats, whole grains, fresh fruits, and lean proteins can reduce the risk of PCOS or manage the condition well. The diet for PCOD and PCOS includes:

  • Legumes, such as lentils and beans
  • Fresh fruits and vegetables
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Whole grains
  • An anti-inflammatory diet like berries, extra virgin olive oil and oily fish
  • Low-fat dairy produce
  • Spices like turmeric and cinnamon

PCOD Drinks

Some simple and easy-to-prepare drinks can also help in managing PCOS. These include:

  • Moringa water
  • Ashwagandha Tonic
  • Fenugreek (Methi) Seeds Water
  • Aloe vera Juice
  • Peppermint tea
  • Hibiscus tea

 

The Bottom Line

Maintaining good health and wellness is crucial for women to prevent or manage hormonal disorders and conditions. Women with irregular periods, excessive acne and hair growth on the face or difficulty getting pregnant should consult a doctor immediately. Additionally, women who are diagnosed with PCOD/PCOS must follow the doctor’s advice to manage the PCOD symptoms. Women looking for a reliable diagnostic centre in Jaipur can visit Dr B. Lal Clinical Laboratory Pvt. Ltd., a reputed name in Rajasthan, that offers more than 1500+ different tests.

 

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